Ever catch yourself wondering what our iMedicare logo signifies? We are always saying that we "help the little guys fight back". We want to give small, independent pharmacies ammo against big box chains and PBMs, but what drives us to do this?
The perks of being a small independent pharmacy are limitless. Owning an independent pharmacy allows the individual to practice pharmacy on their own accord. They can personalize their practice, gaining the trust of patients and become a face in the community. Independent ownership also provides pharmacists with the ability to use their entrepreneurial skills as well. Pharmacists not only practice clinical and traditional pharmacy services, they also get involved in merchandising, marketing, community outreach and other general management.
However, independent pharmacies are fighting a battle against the large insurance companies, drug manufacturers, and chain pharmacies that can make serving patients and staying in business difficult. They face PBMs (Pharmacy Benefit Managers), who make large profits by keeping pharmacy reimbursements low, and even steering patients to drugs where the PBMs make the most money on manufacturer rebates. In turn, this increases drug costs for patients and plans. Independent pharmacists also have to work to avoid closed preferred networks, which can deprive patients of the personal touch that independent pharmacies can afford them.
When we first started iMedicare, the goal was to simplify the overly complicated process of finding a Medicare Part D plan. By integrating with a pharmacy's software system and being based on an iPad (the reason for the "i" in iMedicare), plan comparisons would be more accurate, drastically faster, and mobile so that they could be conducted very easily. We then created this logo for iMedicare:
After we discovered what PBMs and big box/mail order pharmacies were doing and how it impacted independents, our priorities changed from just creating the best Medicare Part D comparison tool to providing a way for independents to fight back. We added benefits to iMedicare like exposing preferred networks that try to take patients out of your pharmacy, showed pharmacy reimbursements for every drug, highlighted DIR fees and so much more. We set out to help independent pharmacies have a fighting chance. With the advances we made, we decided that we needed to rebrand and we came up with a new logo:
But this was not enough, and thus the logo was never fully implemented. iMedicare, while focused on Part D comparisons, wants to help independent pharmacies become the Medicare specialists in their communities, find new sources of revenue, and to not only survive against big boxes and PBMs, but thrive. We strive to educate our pharmacies on more than iMedicare. We want them to understand Medicare, how the industry is changing, and identify opportunities to grow their businesses. Whether this is by keeping them informed, educated, or adding new benefits to iMedicare, we realized our true passion and goal, and created the following logo:
We have heard various interpretations of the new logo, but the answer is simple: a slingshot. We believe that the adversity that independent pharmacies face can be compared to that of David and Goliath.
David didn't use brute force; he worked smart. He used a new tool that was considered a smarter and more strategic fighting strategy than pure strength. Most fail to recognize the advantages an underdog brand has when it faces off against a competitor who has strength, size and wealth. By utilizing iMedicare and our resources, independent pharmacies have the ability to strike back at the Goliaths.
For example, Aetna reassigned network statuses at the beginning of early 2015, affecting nearly 6,887 pharmacies. In turn, this affected 400,000 patients and caused them to either pay too much for their drugs or forced them to transfer to another pharmacy. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) only fined Aetna $1,000,000. While this seems insignificant for a company that had around $2 billion in profits for fiscal year 2014, we need to factor in the Davids. Independent pharmacies were able to help switch patients off of Aetna to other plans. The result - over 55,000 patients moved away from Aetna. Over the same time period in 2013, Aetna gained almost 10,000 enrollees. Taking that into consideration, that is a loss of approximately 60 million dollars in potential revenue.
As we continue to provide new benefits and as more pharmacies join iMedicare, our collective influence becomes stronger. So if there is anything that we can do to better serve you, always feel free to give us a call. The feedback and support from our pharmacies allow us to continually transform iMedicare to better serve independent pharmacy.