Offer convenience and time savings to encourage participation in medication synchronization (med sync)
- Involve your entire staff in identifying candidates for med sync.
- Bring doctors on board early by explaining how med sync will benefit them and their patients.
- Promote your med sync program in multiple ways, including store signage.
- Flag the refills of customers who are candidates for med sync to talk with the pharmacist.
- Tell customers you can make filling their prescriptions easier, and they will listen.
Ask your customers to sign up for a new “program” at your pharmacy, and they are likely to say “No, thanks.” And if you say you can “synchronize” their medications, it may just sound like intimidating jargon.
However, if you tell customers that you can reduce their trips to the pharmacy and make their refills faster and easier, they will listen when you explain the med sync service your pharmacy offers.
Cody Drug’s website says, “We are problem solvers for you,” and that’s how owner Stacy Cody explains the pharmacy’s med sync program to customers and doctors. “Problem solving carries over into every aspect of the pharmacy,” he said, and med sync is more convenient for patients, prescribers and Cody Drug.
This pharmacy in rural Sulphur Springs, Texas, launched its medication synchronization program in May 2015 and by mid-October had signed up more than 200 customers. Now, he said, “We can add five a week or two a day. It’s not hard.”
Multiple marketing approaches
To involve everyone in recruiting new med sync patients, Cody:
- Asked his clerks, “Who does it seem like you’re always checking out?” Cody asked his delivery drivers, “Whose house do you go to every week or twice a month?”
- Met with a dozen doctors to explain the med sync program. Cody called the medical group’s administrator and asked to talk to the doctors for 15 minutes at their weekly meeting. He described how med sync helps with their patients’ drug adherence and medication therapy management to improve Star Ratings, how it would reduce calls to their office about refills, and how it would be more convenient for their patients.As a result, doctors have referred patients to Cody Drug, telling them, “Hey, Stacy can get you all your medications at one time.” The prescribers are happy to authorize the partial fills needed to initially synchronize their patients’ prescriptions.
- Posted signs about med sync in the store, hung a banner outside and inserted postcard-sized advertisements into customers’ bags. (The Health Mart® Marketing Hub offers multiple templates for promoting a med sync program.)
- Flagged refills of med sync candidates with a yellow laminated card that says “Talk to Stacy.” Clerks checking out customers refer those people to the pharmacist, who briefly explains the benefits of med sync and refers them to another employee for a more detailed discussion.
- Reviewed Mirixa and Outcomes reports to identify patients who would benefit from med sync.
Cody tells his customers who are on multiple medications, “Hey, we love seeing you all the time, but if it would be more convenient for you …,” and he explains the med sync program. Both patients and their caregivers tell the pharmacy how much they appreciate the convenience.
Setting up the systems
For the technology to run his med sync program, Cody chose PrescribeWellness, in part because it allowed him to put his own voice on the messages to customers. “We still answer the phones at Cody Drug,” Cody said. “I want people to talk to a real human.”
Cody was convinced that he needed to set up his med sync right the first time, instead of doing it just halfway. So he put a separate desk, computer and phone near his counseling area, where one employee dedicated to med sync can talk with customers. “It was a smart decision to assign someone to it,” Cody said. (Health Mart’s “Medication Synchronization Playbook” includes tips for talking with customers about med sync. Learn more in the Medication Synchronization Education Center, sponsored by Health Mart.)
Since Cody Drug opened in 2010, it has become the largest and busiest pharmacy in a town with a population of about 15,000, which also has two CVS stores, a Walmart, a Walgreens, and grocery store pharmacies. It fills about 600 prescriptions on a Monday, and is approaching 11,000 prescriptions a month.
“Med sync ends up solving some of our problems, too,” Cody said. In addition to being more efficient for filling and delivering prescriptions, it allows the pharmacist to review all of a patient’s medications at once and identify potential problems, such as a patient being on multiple diuretics.
Instead of Monday feeling chaotic as the pharmacy fills 600 prescriptions, Cody said it now feels more relaxed, like they are filling only 150.
Part of the success of the pharmacy and the med sync program is the culture Cody creates when hiring staff. “If you don’t love people, you’re not going to like working here,” he tells applicants. He instructs employees to love their customers and take care of them like they would their grandmother, and med sync fits right in with that attitude of solving customers’ problems.
Now Cody Drug is moving on to identify the next population to target for its med sync program. That may include Medicaid patients who are eligible for MTM or customers on private insurance programs.
Why They Love Med Sync
Here are just two of the testimonials Cody Drug has received for its medication synchronization program, one from a customer and one from a doctor:
Dear Cody Drug,
I would like to thank you for being my angels.
You have taken a big burden off my shoulders by taking an every-other-day, two- to three-hour-long wait with another pharmacy company and making it a two-times-a-month drive-through with a smile.
Thank You and God Bless
Med sync has been wonderful! My patients really appreciate not having to make several trips to the pharmacy a month. Stacy Cody and his staff have been diligent in syncing the refills so they can all be picked up or delivered once a month. This really saves my patients time and money because of the rural area in which we live. The patients may live miles away from the pharmacy, and now they don’t have to make several trips per month and spend so much on gasoline.
Med sync also makes an impact on the number of trips the delivery personnel make. Though I’m sure they come to my clinic at least daily, med sync allows them to not have as many deliveries repeated during the month. Med sync combined with auto refills makes for a near perfect experience!
Annette Horne, D.O.