In the Spotlight: A&J Pharmacy
After years of hard work put into retail chains, pharmacist Sandra Lee wanted to give her community a more personalized healthcare experience. With that goal in mind, A&J Pharmacy was born – and seven years later they haven’t looked back! Although they haven’t been with Medicine-On-Time for a full year yet, Director of Business Don Ras has made big strides with the business and have even bigger goals for the year to come. Read on to see how this community pharmacy leveraged MOT to make their business grow!
Tell us a little bit about your pharmacy, how long have you been in business, how many team members do you have, anything unique about your community and/or pharmacy location?
A&J Pharmacy has been in business for seven years, founded by Sandra Lee, who had spent 16+ years as a pharmacist for a leading chain store here in Rochester. Wanting independence, she left and opened her own business to be able to find opportunities to offer more personalized services for her clients.
The pharmacy currently has 9 employees and is expected to double in size as we look to open up our second location later this Summer. We’re growing because of the community embracing our ‘customer centric and consultative’ approach to pharmacy. We’re showcasing this philosophy by offering programs such as MOT, MTM, SpecialtyRx and carrying OTC products that are moving more towards natural/wellness and nutraceuticals.
A key theme to all of our upcoming store locations is in the promotion of ‘health & wellness’. Each store will be set up to focus on carrying products and services that aim to improve the healthcare of our customers. In addition, the architecture and design of each location will have a ‘modern, health-oriented’ look to differentiate itself from the standard chain pharmacy retail stores.
How do you market your MOT solution to your community?
We are marketing MOT by getting in front of individuals and groups where we are able to explain what MOT is and how it improves ‘med adherence’. So often, as soon as the MOT packaging is shown with each dose cup clearly identified and labeled, the client is sold.
Because of the visual impact of the MOT packaging as well as the health benefits, we plan to actively market in 2018 by holding events such as health seminars, and working with various community groups where we are able to speak directly to our audience.
How has Medicine-On-Time helped grow your pharmacy business? Please discuss how you market to Physicians and any other healthcare groups/facility?
MOT has helped to grow our business by giving us a health platform for engaging with potential clients. Med adherence is a ‘mission critical’ issue that can impact the immediate health of any individual on medicines. Non-adherence can lead to degradation of health and/or result in hospitalization. Having the MOT system as part of our central pharmacy platform enables for us to reach out to a whole community of patients that we otherwise may not reach. It is that important!
The MOT program provides for us a key competitive advantage as we look to grow our market in 2018 and, in particular, reaching out to Physicians and other healthcare groups/facilities. ‘Med adherence’ is an issue that impacts the healthcare sector and being one of the only Independent pharmacies here in Rochester with the MOT program, we’re able to really showcase the services of A&J Pharmacy.
What are some tactics you use to grow your business?
One of our most impactful tactics is simply talking to our customers when they stop in for their medicines. We have such a close relationship with many of our clients that they look forward to each visit as an opportunity to have a conversation about their health. In addition, given that Rochester, NY is a melting pot of many cultures, we’re able to better support this community by providing patient information in 19 languages. As a pharmacy that has a ‘consultative’ approach, wherever we can identify opportunities to better reach our community, we’ll bring that solution in and implement it right away. It’s always about actioning ‘best practice’.
‘Best practice’ to us also means reaching out to various partners to look for ways to work together to better serve the community. For example, we’re partnering with advocacy groups, non-profits, faith-based groups, minority groups and community support organizations to look for opportunities to improve healthcare and medicine access.
How has your business evolved since using MOT? In other words, where were you when you first joined MOT to now?
Having seen the impact of the MOT program for our patients from ‘zero-to-now’, we can’t think of doing anything other than MOT for patients to improve adherence. We see it as a ‘Must’ and where we are able, we make every attempt to inform our clients on its importance and benefits.
It’s amazing that only after 8 months into the program, we can’t imagine our pharmacy being without the MOT product. We look forward to the day when med adherence packaging is a standard part of medicine delivery.
How many patients do you have on Medicine-On-Time?
We are currently serving over 70+ patients. Potential new clients are hesitant at first as they are so used to managing their own medicines by using their weekly pill holders. Once we explain how MOT works and given the simplicity of the program, these clients can easily see the benefits. We’re adding more patients weekly and expect our MOT numbers to grow once the word gets out.
What do your staff think of MOT? How has their workflow changed since implementing MOT?
Initially the staff saw MOT as yet another initiative that required a lot of time and attention. The program was new. However, with proper training and daily exposure to the MOT processes helped the Team gain confidence. Today, they don’t see MOT as something extra that they have to do, but embrace the system as a core fundamental in our day-to-day activities. They now say, “It’s intuitive and easy to use”.
What are your recommendations for new pharmacists using Medicine-On-Time?
For new pharmacists using MOT, a key for early success is to get frequent training support from the MOT Team. The training Team is highly experienced and will help teach new pharmacists the various nuances of the system. It’s important to learn these small details which will greatly accelerate the learning curve and build confidence in the program.
Just for fun: How long have you been in business? What made you interested in pharmacy?
We’ve been in business for over seven years now and look forward to being a leader in the Independent Pharmacy business here in Rochester. For our owner Sandra, her interest in pharmacy grew out of a love for the field of healthcare and wanting to help people. Medicines and health seemed like a perfect fit and thus began a 25+ year career as a pharmacist.
What are your goals for the year?
We’re really excited about our plans for 2018! First, we’re planning to open up our second location later this Summer with a store three times our current size. Our clients have really embraced our ‘Customer Centric’ approach and are passing the word around about helping us grow. We know it will take time but we can see the enthusiasm growing in the community about our “A&J Pharmacy Difference”.
With regards to MOT, our goal is to grow the business to support 500+ patients in the next 11 months which means a 7 times increase. It sounds aggressive, but our Pharmacy Team is really excited to get the word out to achieve this goal. We really believe that MOT should be a “MUST” versus a “WANT” due to it being so important for med adherence.
How do you want to impact your community?
When our owner Sandra set out on her own to run an Independent pharmacy, she wanted to get back to basics and to focus on a “one customer at a time” philosophy. Our sustained growth over the past 7 years is an indication that this theme is working.
Building on this foundation, we feel that we can really make a difference in transforming patient health. We’re able to do this by continuing to introduce and implement programs that we feel can make an impact on the ‘health & wellbeing’ of our community such as MOT, MTM, Specialty Rx, and OTC Natural/Wellness products.
In addition to these programs mentioned, we believe we can make the biggest impact by the continuing education of our clients on their healthcare. We are planning to host/sponsor some health seminars this year on topics such as ‘chronic illness’, and ‘managing healthcare’ to help our community be better informed. Our mission at A&J Pharmacy is always about delivering a friendly, ‘personalized’ experience every time you come into one of our stores.