Recently, we caught up with Tom Cory to chat about how they use iMedicare at Standard Pharmacy.
Tell us a little about yourself, Tom.
I have owned Standard Pharmacy for twenty-nine years in lovely Fall River, Massachusetts and we recently opened up a second location nearby. I am a member of NPSC (Northeast Pharmacy Service Corporation) and a past president of MIPA (Massachusetts Independent Pharmacy Association). I co-host “Ask the Pharmacist Radio Show” every Friday from 1-2 EST. You can even listen in on the worldwide web at WSAR.com. I always say one of the greatest American traditions is the neighborhood drug store. We try and go above and beyond for these patients. After all, I want to be here for another ten years! Plan comparisons and iMedicare help us achieve that.
Why does your pharmacy do plan comparisons?
I have a high non-English speaking population, so much so I used to have to have round-the-clock translators. My patients are not computer literate and some can’t read at all. Others don’t have any family to help them and I certainly don’t want them picking a plan that is too expensive blindly.
It is much better that a pharmacist helps them that is familiar with their drug regimen, the insurances, what medications are and are not covered, what requires a prior auth or a step therapy. That’s why I prefer to help my patients rather than have them be off on their own.
And we don’t just help them during Open Enrollment. When they turn 65, I sit down with them and go through their med list and help them pick the best insurance for them.
What would you say to a pharmacy that doesn’t want to do plan comparisons?
At one time a lot of my fellow owners expressed resistance to doing comparisons. When Flaviu first gave his presentation at NPSC. I remember a few asked “isn’t that steering?” And I gave them the same argument, I said earlier. I don’t want them picking it out on their own. I always go through their top three choices on iMedicare, print them off and let them know which one would be best with their medications and then they make the decision from there.
To those that ask, “why not have their grandchildren help them?” I say, grandchildren, as lovely as they are, may fail to take everything into account. One patient was filling 26 prescriptions a month, and her granddaughter wanted her to choose the lowest premium plan but that was actually the worst one because several of her brand medications were not covered and she did not receive additional gap coverage during the donut hole. With the plan I liked she would enter the catastrophic coverage in April, which in the long run would save her a lot of money. She ended up taking my advice and saved several thousand dollars.
Some patients want no deductible, low premium, whatever it may be. But they don’t realize they need to take all those factors into account.
What are some tips and tricks you can share with fellow pharmacists?
It is essential to be a member and be active in your local pharmacy associations and buying groups. You have to go to the meetings and get the information firsthand. You can’t rely solely on reading the newsletters and faxes.
It is the best source of up-to-date information and that is the key in the business currently. I go to all the NPSC meetings and my friends that don’t will ask me months later about an issue and I’ll tell them they should have been at the meeting when we discussed that!
I also can’t place enough emphasis on talking to your patients, and being out in the neighborhood. I live five blocks from my store, go to church two blocks from here, and use the bank across from my house. We also sponsor a little league team and am chairman of the Board of Health. I help organize the Relay for Health walk. You just have to be out and be kind.