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CVS On-Demand Prescription Delivery?

CVS On-Demand Prescription Delivery? What?

Are You Doing Delivery & Marketing Effectively?

Did you know Americans waste over 8 million hours per day waiting to get their prescriptions filled? In a world where convenience is key and things are getting faster and easier, getting your prescription filled should be no different and that expectation will be spreading throughout the U.S. pretty quickly as new third party companies offering pharmaceutical delivery services pop up around town and market directly to your consumers. A few weeks ago I drove by a CVS that had a 20 foot sign saying “We Deliver” and I had to do a double take. Now don’t get me wrong, I have seen quite a few Independent Pharmacies in my day that offer delivery services so it’s nothing new, but CVS wow. That was always a great differentiator for Independent Pharmacies. Then it made me think that “most” of the Independents I know do not market that they offer delivery services, the convenience of it, and the benefit of saving time and potentially scheduling a drop off time that works with their schedule.

Well… Why not? I remember a presentation I attended where the speaker started with there are innovators who are evolving and then there are dinosaurs. Well… We all know how that story ended for the Dinosaurs so we won’t go into detail but let’s just say there aren’t too many of them around last time we checked. Are you the innovator or the dinosaur? If one CVS is offering this service and marketing it with a huge 20 foot sign, even if it is a pilot program (I have only seen the sign at one store) then I suggest you evolve and not only offer this service, but market it as a convenience so you do not lose additional market share to the big guys. Most Independent Pharmacies probably don’t offer delivery due to potential legalities, maybe it is lack of additional resources, or just debating overall if it is feasible and it makes business sense. I say find a way even if it is next day delivery only during specific times to help from a cost and logistics standpoint.

With over a third of prescriptions not being filled for patients with insurance, studies show it is mostly due to patients being too busy and not having a convenient outlet to get their prescription filled within their availability. Imagine networking with your local companies and providing them a service to deliver their employees prescriptions in a confidential manner? I assume a small percentage would take you up on that offer although what does 500 new patients mean to your pharmacy? Get 100 local companies on board at an average of 5 employees per company taking advantage of this perk, with the average American filling 12 prescriptions per year that equates to an additional 6,000 prescriptions filled annually. For most Independent Pharmacies that is similar to adding an additional month to the calendar year.

Many of these prescriptions by not being filled create additional health risks that have a direct effect on employee performance. A healthy employee is a productive employee. It’s a win win for everyone. Take it a step further… After building a relationship with a company imagine distributing flu shots. I worked for a large corporation that had a blood mobile offering blood donation services and they visited us quarterly. How would this be any different? They would have probably jumped at the opportunity to offer such a service during flu season to help with employee attendance and productivity. As Independent Pharmacist’s and business owners we have to continuously evolve and find new revenue opportunities in which a demand can be created, even if it is a new market and unchartered waters.

In New York City, New York a local business ZipDrug has created a phone App for on demand prescription delivery service from any licensed pharmacy within the city in which the doctor submits a prescription electronically, 7 days per week, 8am – 10pm, with the exception of controlled substances. How convenient? I love it! The company’s goal is to master their concept and expand to other cities. Patients enter their insurance information on the App, schedule a delivery at their convenience, get updates on the delivery, have the ability to communicate with the driver, and even make their copayment directly on the App. The App also reminds patients of refills with an easy to refill your prescription and schedule your delivery button directly on your phone.

Suggestions:

  • Market and we suggest a big sign saying WE DELIVER. With Americans looking for new faster ways the sign alone can draw attention and new patients which may not need the service although the sign acted as a reminder that you exist.
  • Why stop at Prescriptions? Especially in small towns it is a great resource to get upsell opportunities and deliver other goods along with the prescription. Need vitamins, DME’s, etc.? A quick phone call beforehand to your patients with a proper discovery you may find that your patients have additional needs that you can be of immediate assistance and convenience.

I recently spoke with Ravi Shah, PharmD from Harlingen Pharmacy out of Harlingen, TX that has a (BIG) sign on their pharmacy that they deliver. I asked him what results this has provided to his business and below is a synopsis of his response:

“It has increased revenue although in Healthcare it is not always about generating revenue. It is about the patient engagement. If Pharmacists view delivery the same as a face to face interaction it becomes part of your overhead. Geographical area and population density have a direct effect on how easy it is for a pharmacy to be able to offer delivery services, in our area we service a radius of 30-35 miles. Where it has really made a difference is in our community. For example we work with Hospice to deliver medications so the nursing staff can spend more time on patient care. It’s about helping patients and making a difference which is why we became Pharmacists.”

Well said Ravi! Show your support and like Harlingen Pharmacy’s FB page (Here)

Pharmacy Items Delivered By Drone at the Push of a Button
So close… The future WAS almost here: Drone delivery! A company out of San Francisco (//quiqui.me/) brought to the market a Pharma Drone Delivery service. Unfortunately Amazon brought a lot of attention to the Drone Delivery market and the FAA banned domestic delivery services by drone until further notice. The company planned on making deliveries to SF’s Mission District by drone 24 hours a day for a $1 delivery fee with orders being dropped off to patients in 15 minutes or less. Wow! That would have been an amazing concept to see take flight.

CVS In Legal Hot Water

CVS In Legal Hot Water

CVS In Legal Hot Water

Alleged Scheme to Defraud Pharmacy Consumers

It’s no secret that Big Pharma has been raking Americans over the coals by jacking up drug prices, but how far some will go came as a shock! A lawsuit was filed by Hausfeld Firm one week ago, against CVS Health Corp. Allegedly CVS Pharmacy has been submitting falsified claims to insurance companies with inflated prices since 2008. Kristen Broz, the attorney that filed the lawsuit for the 7 plaintiffs stated, “We’ve seen people who pay $20 for a 30-day supply as their copayments on a drug that was $11.99 for a 90-day supply had they been in CVS’s Health Savings Pass program” (Yahoo Health News). CVS’s Health Savings Pass program offers discounts on generic prescription medications to patients that don’t have insurance or decide not to use it to try and save more money. This program includes popular generic forms of Prozac and Penicillin. “Instead of presenting insurance companies with that discounted price, CVS reported the higher price that a normal retail customer not in the Health Savings Pass would pay” (Yahoo Health News).

On top of the higher payment they were receiving from insurance companies, CVS was also collecting higher copayments from patients for the higher price they were submitting to the insurance. This fraudulent program allowed CVS to increase its market share, fight off discount prices from competitors, and hide its usual prices from third-party payers. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people may have been scammed and affected by this scheme. These accusations echo the accusations made by David Morgan, a licensed pharmacist that accused CVS and other Big Pharma companies of pulling this scam in December of 2013. Unfortunately the case was dismissed, but it was alleged that these companies were submitting billions of these false claims as early as 2001 (Courthouse News Service).

References:

Medication Errors

Medication Errors

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the number one cause of re-admittance to the hospital is non-compliance to medication. The FDA reports that since 1992 they have received notification of a startling 30,000 medication errors and more than 7,000 deaths a year as a result. This count does not include the number of medication errors that go unreported. “One study showed that more than half of patients at hospitals nationwide had an error in their medications, such as the wrong drug, the wrong dosage, the wrong frequency, or a potentially dangerous interaction with another drug” (bsahs.org). One report from the FDA included a situation where a physician ordered a 260mg prep of Taxol, but the patient received 260 mg of Taxotere from the pharmacist instead. This mistake cost the patient their life a few days later. It’s easy to make this type of mistake when we get into a routine. The steps and precautions pharmacists take can become mundane and “second nature”, which can become ineffective and dangerous for patients. When we mindlessly go through the motions, accidents are more likely to occur.

The FDA is working on different strategies to reduce the occurrence of medication errors. Drug name confusion, as in the example above, is a big cause of medication errors. “To minimize confusion between drug names that look or sound alike, the FDA reviews about 300 drug names a year before they are marketed. ‘About one-third of the names that drug companies propose are rejected,’ says Phillips. The agency tests drug names with the help of about 120 FDA health professionals who volunteer to simulate real-life drug order situations. ‘FDA also created a computerized program that assists in detecting similar names and that will help take a more scientific approach to comparing names,’ Phillips says” (FDA.gov). The rejection of certain drug names that sound like a medication already on the market is one action the FDA has taken in the fight against medication errors.

What can you and your pharmacists do to decrease medication errors in your area? How about changing your precautionary steps every quarter to reduce errors due to mundane repetition? What other ideas do you have?


A Hospital Minimizing Risk & Creating Jobs for Pharmacists

I think we can all agree that it will take change and testing different strategies to come up with long term solutions to reducing medication errors. A great idea we came across in an industry blog to reduce medication errors is a new two-part process that the Pharmacy Department at BSA Health System in Amarillo, Texas has implemented. Four pharmacists will now be staffed for patient education upon discharge to ensure patients fully understand how to take their medications before discharge preventing unnecessary readmissions, and four additional pharmacists assigned solely to the ER Department to perform medication use evaluation for each patient. Their goal is by educating and making sure each patient is well informed on the importance of each medication, they hope to see a significant improvement of proper medication usage within their patients including a reduction in medication errors.

References:
//www.bsahs.org/blog/new-pharmacy-programs-aim-avoid-medication-errors
//www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm143553.htm
//www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2010/january2010/p2pdispensingerrors-0110