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Suppose you take your car to a mechanic shop you’ve never used before. You explain that the brakes are beginning to make funny noises and wondered if they would take a look. The mechanic grabs his clipboard and, without looking up, says “Sure, what’s the make, year, and model?”

You reply quickly that it’s a 2018 Chevy Impala, to which the mechanic responds apologetically, “Sorry, we only work on Ford model years 2005 through 2019.” You assume he’s joking, but he’s not.

OK, that’s crazy. Who would limit their market so much when potential customers need assistance?

Take a Look at Your Pharmacy Market — Has It Changed?

If someone asked you to describe your market, how would you respond? I’m guessing most would say they provide pharmaceutical care for the elderly who reside in an institutional setting. Some of you would probably not limit the description to institutional settings, expanding the opportunity to the elderly living in the community. Could you describe your target market without including the word elderly?

Now, think about the details of what you do day-to-day. For example, what percentage of the people you care for have a chronic medical condition? Probably, nearly all. In the U.S., 60 percent of adults have at least one chronic condition and 40 percent have at least two. The majority of these people are not living in institutions and are not enrolled in Medicare.

We know LTC pharmacies and their consultant pharmacists are experts at managing complex drug regimens. The average nursing home resident consumes more than 12 drugs on a regular schedule. Americans consume the most prescription drugs of any nation, and it’s not limited to the traditional definition of elderly. One third of Americans aged 50-64 take at least four prescription drugs at any given time.

You can probably think of other distinctive skills you use every day in operating your pharmacy. Think about how these skills can be deployed in other settings or among people in different populations. For instance, could these marketing headlines belong to you?

  • Taking more than five prescription drugs? Maybe we can help you safely reduce that number.
  • Do you have more than one chronic medical condition? Let us help you get the most from your treatment.
  • Do you worry that your prescriptions may not mix with your dietary supplements? Our expert pharmacists can help you with that.

Note that none of those headlines include the words old, elderly, or senior. They could apply to a 35-year-old as easily as a 75-year-old.

Why Invest in Pharmacy Change?

Maybe you have your hands full right now and don’t need to think about expanding your focus. Good for you, but first take a look at the landscape. Nursing home occupancy hasn’t recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic and states are pushing home and community-based options in Medicaid as an alternative to institutional long-term care. Even if you feel pretty confident that the status quo is good for the foreseeable future, it always pays to be ready for the next market shift.

Successful companies change before circumstances force them to. Maybe your next big breakthrough is just a think away.

X-Factors in Re-defining Your Pharmacy Mission

  • Catalog the skills your team uses every day to fulfill its mission.
  • Examine whether these skills can be deployed in different patient populations, different practice settings, and under different care models.
  • Take the pulse of your organization. Do they believe a mission reset can work?

Is your pharmacy reaching out to a customer base other than senior citizens? Tell us about it!

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Written by: Paul Baldwin, Baldwin Health Policy Group
Paul’s pharmaceutical industry experience in public and government affairs led to becoming Executive Director of the Long Term Care Pharmacy Alliance, helping lead the industry through the Medicare Modernization Act and creation of the prescription drug benefit. Paul was VP of Public Affairs for Omnicare before founding Baldwin Health Policy Group.
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