In a recent article, one of our valued customers – Guardian Pharmacy of Orlando – gives a succinct description of the role of LTC pharmacy in today’s growing marketplace. Below is an excerpt.
The average nursing-home resident has many as a dozen prescription medications. To dispense the pills from regular pill bottles can be time-consuming for nurses and increase the risk of mistakes, diversion and drug interactions.
That’s where niche pharmacies such as Guardian Pharmacy Services, which recently opened a new facility in Orlando — its seventh location in Florida — come in.
“We don’t have specialized packaging and consultants in average retail stores, so these pharmacies evolved,” said Dana Saffel, president and CEO of Pharmacare Strategies, a consulting firm in Florida.
The pharmacies mainly contract with long-term care facilities such as nursing homes to fill residents’ prescriptions.
“There are no on-site pharmacies in nursing homes, and that’s where we come in,” said Alan Obringer, president of Guardian Pharmacy of Orlando and an industry veteran.
There’s already a spike in the number of pharmacy-school graduates who choose to specialize in geriatric pharmacy.
“The geriatric specialty has been growing very rapidly, and I expect it to continue to grow rapidly,” said Thomas Clark, senior director of geriatric pharmacy certification at Board of Pharmacy Specialties, an autonomous division of the American Pharmacists Association. “In the first half of this year, we doubled the number of applicants for the specialty to 700.”
Running a long-term pharmacy is not easy business. Profit margins are slim and competition is stiff, particularly for smaller groups.
“Our biggest challenge is competing with large chains to get the business [of long-term care facilities] in the community,” said Bri Morris, who manages long-term care services for National Community Pharmacists Association.
But recent changes in federal guidelines, which reward providers for quality and patient satisfaction, are giving smaller companies new opportunities.
“The number of nursing-home beds has been declining,” said Clark. “That’s in part because assisted living is growing and taking on less acute patients.”
Also, the rapidly growing aging population is more likely to “age in place” instead of moving into a nursing home. They also want more personalized care.
“The most common issue for long-term care facilities is non-personal care,” said Obringer of Guardian. “We answer the phone. We try to text everybody, like it’s our own grandmother. And we customize our services.”