There’s a quote from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes in which Solomon says “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” The point is obvious. The wise king of Israel recognized, as we all do eventually, that there is strength in numbers. This quote from James Cash Penney (yep, the J.C. Penney) appears to point in the same direction, “The keystone of successful business is cooperation.” The challenge for many independent pharmacy owners is to find tangible ways to join forces, while at the same time retaining their independence.
Many solutions to this problem are currently available. It was my privilege to talk to the CEO of an organization who is providing just such a solution for pharmacy owners today. His name is Michael Wysong (@MWysong55) and he is the CEO of Care Pharmacies Cooperative, a Maryland-based company with a growing network of pharmacy members in MD, NJ, PA and NY.
Thanks for sharing your insights and business with our readers here at The Honest Apothecary!
1) Michael, could you tell us a little about yourself and your own personal career and what led you to being the CEO at Care Pharmacy Cooperative?
Jason – I am a proud graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. I elected to pursue a career in healthcare given the military restructuring that was going on at that time of my graduation. I started as a salesman with Baxter Healthcare in 1993, and continued in positions of increasing responsibility with great companies like Allegiance, Cardinal Health, and AmeriSource Bergen. I came to CARE as the CEO because I was excited at the prospect of working with independent pharmacy owner operators in what is arguably the most challenging time in healthcare.
2) How and when did Care Pharmacy Cooperative begin?
While CARE Pharmacies has been in business for more than 50 years, it has only functioned as a true cooperative for a year. CARE’s mission to represent the interests of our members, support their growth, promote their profitability, and enable them to provide superior patient satisfaction, made the cooperative structure a natural fit. Our extensive growth is proof that we got it right. CARE was recognized as the 6th fastest growing US retailer in 2012, and the fastest growing Top 25 Drug Chain 2 years in a row.
3) What, in your opinion, are some of the biggest challenges facing independent community pharmacies today?
The list of challenges that we face in independent pharmacy continues to grow. Mandatory mail order continues to be a major issue, declining reimbursement hurts everyone, unnecessary PBM audits waste time and money, and now the narrowing of networks, makes it harder for customers to get their prescriptions filled by local businesses best positioned to provide quality of care.
4) What exactly are the advantages for independent pharmacies to belonging to this cooperative?
Our Cooperative is unique in a number of regards. First, we consider ourselves to be the first true “Retail Independent Drug Chain.” Our current structure allows us to take full advantage of the operational efficiencies of a Regional Drug Chain while still maximizing the spirit of the Independent owner operator. We think that is a powerful combination so long as one side does not compromise the other; in addition, we have made it possible for our members to venture out of traditional pharmacy and into other areas of pharmacy. Our organization has a very large specialty pharmacy footprint. Our involvement with the HIV community in Washington, DC and our unique approach to contracting in this space make us an attractive option for pharmacies that have or may desire to venture out of traditional retail pharmacy.
5) Are there any restrictions or agreements imposed upon member pharmacies who elect to join?
We will meet with any perspective customer to determine if the fit is mutually beneficial. Our members must be in good standing and be willing to work collaboratively on strategic initiatives. Our cooperative structure ensures economic transparency and clarity of purpose.
6) Would you be willing to share what the costs are to join?
The upfront costs are minimal. Our prime focus isn’t on unnecessarily taxing our customers. We want to run our organization as fiscally responsible as we can, while providing as much value, and driving as much revenue back to our owners as we can..
7) Let’s say a pharmacist wanted to open a brand new pharmacy. Does Care Pharmacy Cooperative provide any help or direction to new startups? What about the sale or purchase of a pharmacy?
CARE provides services on both fronts. Our tenured staff, coupled with our strategic partnerships, allows us to make sure that a perspective customers experiences match their expectations.
8) Michael thanks for sharing this information with us. How can my readers best get in contact with you or with Care Pharmacy Cooperative if they would like more information?
Perspective customers can log-on to our website at www.carepharmacies.com for more information, or they can reach out directly to me at 1-866-CARE-RXS. We are also on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-In.
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Tags: Care Pharmacies Cooperative, Independent Pharmacy, Michael Wysong