Pharmacy U

What’s the secret sauce of high adherence pharmacies?

Jim Danahy photo 2018

CARE is always the starting point, is greater than [ > ], and leads to, COMMERCE. The order can never be reversed.

By Jim Danahy, CEO, CustomerLab

For nearly 20 years, our firm has boosted productivity for pharmacies and other healthcare organizations across North America. We’ve worked under the hoods of large, small, chain, independent, urban, rural, successful — and failing — pharmacies.

What we’ve collected from under all those hoods is a mountain of anecdotal evidence that the CARE>COMMERCE law is the most reliable factor influencing sustainable profitability and business valuation — more reliable than store size, banner or location.

Many pharmacies comply with the letter of modern standards of care without enjoying the results that others generate. When it comes to a concept as potentially subjective as CARE, objective standards alone are inadequate and can be reduced to “ticking boxes”.

Those who do it well know that CARE in a community pharmacy setting is about culture, and it requires a trusting relationship between all the pharmacy staff and their customers. Without a culture of care, objective data can overstate performance. A caring culture is often the secret ingredient distinguishing one community pharmacy from another. It’s retail. It has customers, not subjects.

“It’s about culture, not programs,” Al Chilton, CEO of Rubicon Pharmacies, has said.

CARE>COMMERCE cultures typically begin with a forceful leader and guarantor who publicly commits to put customer care first. The culture is evidentwhether the owner is on duty or not. Exceptional care is always celebrated and publicly rewarded as part of the culture. Examples of exceptional care are reviewed regularly for adaptation into the standard of care at the business.  Care challenges are routinely discussed and tackled as a team. These pharmacies are always improving.

Here is a powerful example of CARE>COMMERCE at work: medication adherence. This equation influences pharmacies to make medication adherence the #1 priority of their businesses (a recent study indicated that many pharmacists rank adherence only fourth or fifth).

Here’s why: 50 per cent of patients with chronic conditions are not adhering to prescribed medications after six months. A World Health Organization report says bluntly: “Increasing the effectiveness of adherence interventions may have a far greater impact on the health of the population than any improvement in specific medical treatments.”

Review the facts: 12,500 Canadians die every year from non-adherence to cardiovascular medications alone. Non-adherence is the fourth leading cause of death in the US. It is crippling the Canadian healthcare system with $16 billion in unnecessary costs. CustomerLAB estimates that non-adherence also costs Canadian pharmacies $12.5 billion each year in lost sales. That’s 10 times the impact of generic drug reform, $1.5 million in lost sales for every store in the country, every year, or almost $4,000 a day. Nothing is a higher priority.

Increasingly, community pharmacists get the message of CARE>COMMERCE in the area of medication adherence.

“We try to teach staff to enquire without being confrontational, [be] more conversational, reconciliational….compounding helps Rx tolerance, special needs and shortages. More nutrition, NHPs, OTCs, and home health help symptoms & Rx side effects,” says Sean Simpson of Simpson’s Pharmasave.

CARE>COMMERCE pharmacies use their cultures as the substrate that holds adherence tools and techniques together and makes them effective. They realize that the patients who need the most care are also their most valuable customers. These pharmacies literally save more lives — and prosper.


care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness,
injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans.
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care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness,
injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans.

Provider Network Management

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