Pharmacy U

Introducing Med Sync and the Appointment-Based Model


With its focus on medication synchronization and adherence, the Appointment-Based Model (ABM) now being introduced in Canada is bringing value and efficiencies to pharmacies, patients and the healthcare system in general.

By Talbot Boggs

“ABM delivers medication adherence — the ‘sweet spot’ of pharmacy,” Gordon Cooper, Pfizer Canada’s Director of Commercial Channels, told attendees at the sixth annual Pharmacy U Toronto conference. “Non-adherence costs the healthcare system up to $20 billion and results in up to $10 billion in lost revenue to pharmacies each year. Adherence improves patient care, brings new revenues to pharmacies and adds value to the entire healthcare system.”

ABM is a proactive model involving medication synchronization and regular appointments and communication with pharmacists to verify patients’ medication needs, get refills and discuss other health issues.

“Getting started is a matter of will, not skill,” said Jesse McCullough, Director of Pharmacy Initiatives and Business Development with Rite Aid. “Start with patients with only one medication and then expand to those with multiple, more complex regimens. The results in pharmacies that have successful implemented this model have been transformational with improved adherence, patient care, inventory management and workflow. ABM allows you to thrive in today’s environment.”

Pharmacists need to be committed to implementing the model, must engage staff and then explain the benefits to patients. Medication synchronization alone will provide value, but pharmacists will lose the chance to improve their relationship with clients, identify other problems and provide solutions.

“Don’t let the process overwhelm the opportunities that ABM provides,” said Michael Wright, Chief Business Development Officer with Rubicon Pharmacies. “Most of our successful stores are engaged in ABM. An enhanced relationship with customers is your competitive advantage. This is the right thing for pharmacy today.”

Become the go-to for seniors

Community pharmacies also need to create a friendly environment and become a trusted healthcare resource for the growing population of seniors. The pharmacist’s role for this aging demographic is to ensure safe and effective medication use, help patients meet their other healthcare needs, refer them to other healthcare providers when necessary, and share information within the patients’ circle of care.

Rosemarie Patodia, a Certified Geriatric Pharmacist, urged pharmacists to take a holistic approach when dealing with seniors. Is mobility an issue? Are patients struggling to read or squinting, or do they have trouble hearing or speaking clearly? Are they struggling to cope with a chronic disease or the loss of a loved one?

“Talk with your patients – listen and watch,” Patodia said. “You are well positioned to be a trusted resource to help seniors meet their health-related needs. Be proactive, take a holistic approach, work toward collaborating with others in the patient’s circle of care and be cognizant of potential care gaps that can occur.”

Conference attendees also had access to seminars and workshops on a broad range of other topics including dispensing antibiotics, diabetes and skincare, pain management, and legal and financial considerations for pharmacy owners.

Collaborate with physicians

Engaging physicians is important for pharmacists to improve patient care and expand their services. Physicians generally have little knowledge about pharmacy services, and some may actually have had negative encounters regarding pharmacy services in the past.

Pharmacist consultant Iris Krawchenko suggested pharmacists be disciplined about improving collaboration with physicians, and set goals, learn about the individual doctor’s practice, determine the best ways to describe and present your services, and learn how to handle objections and rejection.

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing,” Krawchenko said. “Have no regrets about trying to innovate your practice. Remember that good patient care leads to good commerce. This is your practice. Shape it or someone else will.


Pharmacists benefited

Pharmacist attendees were enthusiastic about their learning at PharmacyU.

“What I really love about this conference is its focus on the business of pharmacy and the fact that you get lots of hands-on information about what’s happening in the industry and how to improve your business and technical practice, all in one day.

“I was really interested in learning about the Appointment Based Model. I’ve read about it, but hearing about the actual impact medication synchronization can have on adherence, patient outcomes, and operational efficiency of your business has convinced me that this is the way to go in the future. I’m going to start implementing this in my pharmacy. I just have to get to it.

“I also really enjoy the opportunity this conference provides to meet new people and renew acquaintances with a lot of colleagues from the past.”

Kimberly Baskin, K and J Pharmacy, Clinton, ON.


“I found this conference really interesting. I am currently trying to find new markets for our pharmacy. What was really helpful to me was learning about the CARE (client-focused) (attributes) (right reasons) (evidence) model to help you sell your services. I would like to apply this to a new smoking cessation program. It’s helped me learn how to approach patients. I believe this will help us navigate the new and changing environment of pharmacy.”

Arunkumar Mistry, Professional Medical Pharmacy, Mississauga, ON.


“This is my second PharmacyU conference and I can say that it is the only conference in the industry which is focused on the business of pharmacy and how that is linked to client care.

“My expectation for this year’s conference was to learn how to add value-services to my pharmacy, but that all changed when I heard about the Appointment Based Model and how it can improve patient care and loyalty, decrease inventory, improve workflow efficiency and pickups, and lead to more OTC interventions.

“My pharmacy has a big youth demographic so I was also very interested in the presentations on skincare, which is a big concern and interest among our younger patients. This is a really informative conference with lots of practical information.”

Puneet Mahajan, Wellone Pharmacy, Toronto, ON.


“A really good, informative conference, as always. It was very well attended with some really interesting presentations.

“I particularly liked the presentation on enhancing collaboration with physicians. This is something almost every pharmacist hates to do. I’ve had some success in the past in this area, but what Iris (Krawchenko) suggested is the way to go about it. Thanks.”

Richard Stein, Canadian Compounding Pharmacy, Toronto.


“This was my first conference. It was very well done – informative and a very friendly environment.

“I especially enjoyed the sessions on becoming a senior-friendly pharmacy because we have a large senior population. There were things in those presentations that we can use to improve our practice for seniors.

“I also really enjoyed the session on diabetes as I am currently working on my CDE designation and really appreciated that I can get credits at the same time.”

Spandana Ravuri, Loblaw Pharmacy, Shelburne, ON.