To grow her independent pharmacy business and become the go-to resource in her community, Jana Bennett, RPh knew she needed to make some major changes, in both the pharmacy front-end and in how she viewed her role as a pharmacist.
“Realizing that so many medications deplete nutrients in the body was a huge eye-opener for me. Why didn’t I know that before?” Bennett said. “Educating patients on how they can feel better is really important to me.”
The revamp began in February 2017 when Bennett realized she could not, in good conscience, recommend cheap, ineffective dietary supplements to her patients. Her two pharmacy locations, in Sherman and Denison, TX, have a loyal following of 5,000 patients. Many of these patients are like family to her; some have been with her since she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy 23 years ago. Enough was enough, so Bennett decided to make the change.
“We decided to implement the Pharmace Replete Program and took out all of our existing dietary supplements and replaced them with Ortho Molecular Products and a few products from another line of professional supplements,” Bennett said. “We carry Ortho Molecular Products because we want to offer our patients products that really work. I was tired of stocking cheap products just to have something sitting on the shelves.”
The revamp was not without its challenges, but perhaps the most significant and unexpected hurdle came from Bennett herself. She had initially resisted the Pharmace Replete Program because she was concerned she would seem to “salesy” to her patients. After several conversations with her Ortho Molecular Products representative, the lightbulb turned on.
“I realized that everyone wants to feel better and they are never going to feel better taking more and more drugs,” Bennett said. “I started working on my elevator speech for CoQ10 and the first time I discussed it with a patient, it worked! He bought a bottle right then and there. I was stunned. I had to have a really long talk with myself about how much trust people put in me as their pharmacist and how I really have an obligation to educate them on what they need to do to be well.”
Bennett and her staff set to work implementing the Pharmace Replete Program. They started with simple shelf signage, a literature rack with product information sheets, and a chalkboard featuring one product or condition at a time. They developed several “bag clippers,” neon sheets of paper that highlight a targeted drug that causes nutrient depletion and related effects, and placed them in racks near where pharmacists check prescriptions. As the pharmacists print off receipts, they add the appropriate bag clipper to the prescriptions. Bennett hired a marketing specialist to help design a prescriber-facing brochure that highlights the services her pharmacy offers. Her staff is educated on key dietary supplement products and many staff members now take the products themselves.
Bennett said she is excited to see the program gaining momentum in her pharmacy, and recalls one patient story that highlights the impact the program has had so far.
“One of our patients, an older gentleman, is on multiple medications, and as we were checking his medications shortly after adding the bag clippers to our workflow, we added the bag clippers for CoQ10 and neuropathy to his prescriptions. The patient returned to the pharmacy after reading the information, and asked for the CoQ10 and Methyl B12 that had been recommended by our ‘flashy’ neon bag clippers,” Bennett said. “He grumbled a little about the price, but made the purchase anyway. The following week, his caregiver stopped by and told me the patient was astounded to be feeling so much better and the products ‘were worth every penny!’ His physician was impressed with this progress, too, and now regularly refers his neuropathy patients to us.”
In the eight months since starting the Pharmace Replete Program, the pharmacy has seen about a two-thousand-dollar increase per month in sales. But the real impact, Bennett said, can be seen when patients come to the pharmacy knowing they will leave feeling better; not just taking more drugs, but really feeling better. That will pay long-term dividends.
“I would encourage other independent pharmacists to be brave, get rid of the cheap stuff and take a stand that reflects your values by offering your patients products that really can make them feel better,” Bennett said. “For our pharmacy, we are on a mission to be the go-to resource for those in our community who want to feel their very best.”
Learn more about Pharmace programs dedicated exclusively to independent community pharmacies.