I’m a fan of long-term care pharmacy and consultant pharmacists. The work you do is vitally important and often takes place outside the glare of public view. Ours is a relatively small sector in the multi-trillion dollar healthcare industry; about $20 billion per year in revenue.
Almost all of the industry’s revenue comes from public health insurance programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. There are both upsides and downsides to this. The major upside is that your major payer isn’t going out of business. The downside is that the policies under which you provide your service are governed by political considerations, not by normal business factors. Understanding government health policy as it affects LTC pharmacy is a critical element of success. Fortunately, I have some experience in this.
The LTC Pharmacy industry is getting more crowded. Our Pharmacy Directory includes more than 2,000 pharmacies with primary specialty codes for LTC Pharmacy. The list goes longer each week. This means you have to continue to improve your marketing skills or your business will almost surely suffer.
I am not a seasoned expert in marketing and don’t claim to be. I will be as transparent as I can when I discuss marketing and invite you to join me as I experiment with various marketing approaches. You will see the occasional win and more mistakes as I take you along with me on my journey to build one of the most credible LTC Pharmacy sites in the country.
People who excel as digital marketers stress the importance of developing customer personas. A persona is a visualization of what the potential customer looks like. It includes job title, daily responsibilities, work challenges, attitude, level of enthusiasm, skills, personality traits and ambitions (among other things).
The persona I visualize as I write this is a LTC pharmacy owner or senior manager who got into this profession out of a sincere desire to serve the most vulnerable people in the healthcare system. You are busy, consumed with the day-to-day challenges of trying to get the deliveries out, answer customer questions, manage staff, clear prior authorization requests, hire the right people to help you run the business and, when you find the time, figure out how to get the next customer to continue your growth. Oh, and help your nursing home customers prepare for the next survey.
That’s the starting point. The persona will change as we talk to each other, but this is my starting point. Let me know if I’m on track with this. I hope to be the person sending the email you find useful, with services that you find to be vital to your success.
The late philosopher Christopher Hitchens once observed that “politics is show business for ugly people.” The photo of me on the left confirms this.
I got the politics virus early in my career. I started out in the pharmaceutical industry as a sales rep for a long-forgotten company called USV Laboratories (anyone remember Hygroton and Regroton?). A year later we got bought by Rorer, famous for Maalox. At an annual sales meeting we had a presentation by the government affairs team and I became infected.
I harassed the head of the department for more than four years before I got my first job in the group and was responsible for covering state legislatures and executive agencies in New York and New England. Great fun! About five years later I was invited inside to manage the state government affairs operation. I later discovered that the main reason I was chosen was that no one else would take the job.
It was in this role I discovered the LTC pharmacy industry and began to talk to people in the industry to see why such a small number of pharmacies were able to move such big volumes of prescription drugs. Most of my early education was graciously provided by ASCP legend Tim Webster, who loved this industry more than anyone I have ever met.
My company, now Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, was merging with Hoechst Marion Roussel and was moving to New Jersey. With kids in high school I decided to skip the move and take the severance package. Later I got an offer to cover government relations for NeighborCare, a division of Genesis Health Ventures (now Genesis Healthcare). Soon after, I was asked to become executive director of the Long Term Care Pharmacy Alliance, a trade group consisting of the five public companies in the industry. It was this period when the Medicare Drug Benefit was being debated in Congress. We didn’t get as much as we wanted from Congress, but continued working with CMS during the implementation stage and worked with the agency to commit to the LTC Guidance document that requires drug plans to have LTC pharmacy networks and provide essential services to LTC residents under the benefit.
My last stop was Vice President of Public Affairs for Omnicare, where I set up the Washington office and managed the government relations function. I have been self-employed as a consultant since 2013. I took up flying as part of my mid-life crisis and got my private pilot license in 2011 and continue to enjoy sailing far above the congested traffic in Southeastern Pennsylvania. I will stop here before this begins to read like an obituary (although I may be too late).