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Missouri pharmacies are forced to adapt during economic recession to keep doors open

By STACEY PETERS | Marketing Manager | MPA

With the national unemployment rate hovering around 9 percent, jobs across the country are harder and harder to come by according to the National Conference of State Legislators. In Missouri, the unemployment rate has decreased nearly 1 percent since September 2009; however, it still floats around an all time high of 8.7 percent, according to the Department of Numbers. This means that more than 914,000 Missourians were uninsured in 2010, as stated by CoverMissouri.org. For pharmacists and pharmacies, this means that the thousands without insurance are more likely to go without preventive care or to delay or forego medical care, says Families USA. This will cause medication and prescriptions needed by pharmacists to decrease.

According to Pharmacy Times, the recession has forced many pharmacies to close stores or cut their hours because consumer shopping habits have changed in the new economy and some of those habits will have an impact on purchases of prescriptions and OTC healthcare products for the next few years, according to Thom Blischok, president of consulting and innovation for Information Resources Inc. (IRI).

Over the last six months, 23 percent of consumers who have incomes of $35,000 a year or less say they had decreased their spending on healthcare products. And 17 percent of people who earn $35,000 to $55,000 a year say they have cut back on buying healthcare products, founded by IRI.

Several Missouri Pharmacy Association members who own independent pharmacies say the economy has reshaped and transformed how they do pharmacy. Customers are looking for the cheapest option; Tim Mitchell of Family Pharmacy of Neosho says, “Mail orders or chain stores have pressured many of our patients to switch to their services because they might be able to save them money.”

Clarissa Hall of Hall’s Pharmacy, Inc. in Washington, MO says “The economy, recession, has affected the way we do business. We try our best to provide our patients with the cheapest option while still giving them the benefit they expect from their medications.”

Tim says, “Our stores have stayed pretty busy throughout the recession. We have maintained our volume by continuing to offer top of the line customer service and offering a wide variety of other services that can produce alternative revenue.”

While, Steve Horst of Horst Pharmacy in Jackson says, “Our business is doing good even with the poor economy and current recession, that we are just going with the flow.”

“As an independent pharmacy owner in a large ocean of big box sharks, the only way to survive is creating a niche,” says Clarissa.

Steve says, “We have been marketing to local physicians to refer new and old patients to our pharmacy for prescriptions, medications, and supplies”

“We have continued to perform every MTM opportunity available for payment for our patients which typically gets patients into our stores and creates trust between patients and our pharmacists. We have continued providing diabetes supplies and medications, immunizations of all types, INR tests, blood pressure and blood glucose screenings, etc.,” says Tim.

“With the Compounding Center, we are able to offer some cheaper alternatives that wouldn’t normally be an option for the patient and as the Compounding Center picks up speed, I have realized it is going to be the saving grace for our little independent pharmacy,” says Clarissa.

Customer satisfaction is not only meeting your customer’s expectations, but also exceeding them.

Steve says “We will find the best solution for our individual patients situation”

Tim says “I strongly feel that the key to a successful business is built by developing personal relationships with patients while having genuine concern for their well-being. This concern, along with patient satisfaction and good customer service, will always be my primary goals as a pharmacist.”

Moving medicines are the cornerstone of the pharmacy profession, medication access and supply. Always consider new ways of managing the transition of medicines from pharmacy to patient.

Suzanne Gude with Drug Topic says, “There is hope. Pharmacy owners in various parts of the country are achieving diverse levels of profitability. The most successful credit niche markets as the key. Like you, these owners were frustrated until they adopted a profitable and less stressful way to run their business. These independents realized compounding, senior care, DME, infusion therapy, HIV therapy, nuclear pharmacy, vet care, and integrative medicine as well as other pharmacy niches are all viable solutions,” for a successful independent pharmacy.

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