There’s a Proverb that says “in the multitude of counselors, there is safety.” And maybe no health care industry needs the input of seasoned counselors to navigate these often complex and financially frightening waters more than pharmacy. Pharmacy business owners and would-be owners need access to individuals who understand these complexities and can offer their resources to help them. Integrated Pharmacy Solutions offers an array of services suited to help many businesses involved in the pharmacy supply chain achieve greater success. I’m grateful to CEO Michael Tocco for taking some time to answer a few questions about his business and the services they offer.
Michael, welcome to The Honest Apothecary!
1) Could you share with my readers a little about the history of IPS? How did it get started and how has the business grown?
I started the consulting Group in 1992 as Pharmaceutical Strategies and changed the name in 2005 to Integrated Pharmacy Solutions. We have changed over the years as pharmacy has changed, but have taken every opportunity to add the best talent in the pharmacy consulting arena. Today we have 22 full time employees and about 10 ongoing contract consultants to fill any void we may have. “IPS mission is to elevate the value of pharmacy within healthcare”. Every project we take on, needs to provide an opportunity to show and improve the value of pharmacy to our clients.
2) What, specifically, are the services that IPS offers today?
We operate in three core spaces:
1. Pharmacy Data Management-(about 40% of our business) we have a full staff of people to slice and dice pharmacy claims data and to use that data a number of ways. We use the data to advise PBM’s regarding benefit design, potential formulary change impact on budget, fraud waste and abuse auditing, CMS Med D analysis for the 5 star program, and creation of patient registries.
2. Regulatory and Legislative Consulting- (about 15% of our business)- we have an incredibly strong team of regulatory consultants, 2 have served on the board of Pharmacy in Massachusetts, one was executive director for 17 years of the Board of Pharmacy, and one worked with DPH and advised the board of pharmacy. We conduct Regulatory Assessments, offer recommendations, managed diversions issues, and advise on regulations in such areas as 340B, State and Federal pharmacy regulations and Laws, URAC accreditation, Veterans Administrative purchasing program validation as well as Legislation consulting.
3. Contract Pharmacy Management- (about 45% of our business) We consult or take over complete management of pharmacies for owners. We manage approximately 20 pharmacies primarily in the Northeast United States. We provide design, build-out, licensing, contracting with 3rd party payors, promotion, and day to day operational management. Our operations management covers inventory management, regulatory compliance, 3rd party contracting, cash management, staffing, staff development, policies and procedures, administration of P&T committees, 340b and Veterans Purchasing compliance, as well as HIPAA and FW&A Training. We currently manage hospital, independent retail, mail, specialty, infusion, sub-acute care, community health center pharmacies, and University Student Health Center Pharmacies.
3) Pharmacists in New England are feeling the crunch of a saturated job market. Many are starting to think about pharmacy ownership as an option. Does IPS help pharmacists think through this process? How would you do this?
IPS conducts Pharmacy Feasibility Studies and provides 3 year start- up proforma’s and cash flow projections. We also provide ongoing management consultation for pharmacies as stated in the above question. We also can help pharmacists switch pharmacy vocations because of our management of all the various settings and ability to cross train pharmacists..
4) Pharmacy owners are looking to sell their businesses in a way that helps them meet their retirement goals. How could IPS help an owner work through this process?
We have been brokering pharmacies for the last 20 years. With past experience working with chains to purchase pharmacies, our staff now assists pharmacy owners to get the best offer for their pharmacy to fulfill whatever their needs may be. We handle all the negotiation, and walk the owner through what becomes a very comfortable and controlled process from making the decision to sell, to the final inventory day.
5) Today many health clinics, hospitals and medical centers are considering the financial benefit to operating a pharmacy. Can a small pharmacy incorporated into such settings actually be profitable? What are the keys to their success?
Pharmacy has changed, with 95% third party payors, various discount purchasing programs, and more rigorous regulations, the key is having a broad based understanding of pharmacy operations, regulations, and claims adjudication. IPS has extensive experience in all these areas. So, yes pharmacy can work to provide profit once again, however it required skilled competent management.
6) Could you talk a little about your team at IPS? How are you positioned to leverage your experience to help your clients here in New England?
We have extensive, perhaps the very best, staff experienced in all the areas we serve. It has taken 20 years to build this team and I would put this team up against any other in the pharmacy industry nationally. Once again, we have extensive operational experience, data management, regulatory, and legislative expertise. It is not any one of those areas that makes us so effective, it’s the fact we have operationally managed, regulated, legislated and audited pharmacies all over the United States.
7) If any of my readers want more information about IPS and your services, where should they call?
We are a person to person organization, they can call Marcia Brown (Operations Director), Lou Dell’Olio (Contract Pharmacy Management Director), Steve DePietro (Pharmacy Data Management Director), J.D. Coffey (Accreditation and Credentialing), or myself, Michael Tocco at 781-333-6040.
I encourage my readers who might benefit from the services that Integrated Pharmacy Solutions have to offer to reach out and contact them.