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How to Win at Clinical Innovation


Marsha Bivins - June 21, 2019 - 0 comments

Congratulations to Buena Vista Drug in Buena Vista, Colorado! The pharmacy staff recently received Health Mart’s 2019 Clinical Innovation Award. Continue reading to learn more about their journey to expanding their clinical offerings to their community. 

For the past 50 years, Buena Vista Drug has served the community of Buena Vista, Colorado as an independent pharmacy.

This alone is a wonderful service to the community, but when pharmacist-turned-owner Lucas Smith joined the staff five years ago, he saw all the potential gaps in healthcare this store could address. “Before, we were a traditional prescription-filling pharmacy,” Lucas recounts. “Now, we offer a variety of services.” 

When Buena Vista first began offering clinical services to their patients, Lucas wanted to address two issues: “This was to fill a need in our community. We also wanted to have other potential sources of revenue for the pharmacy other than filling prescriptions. All the DIR fees and reimbursement challenges forced us to find other ways to help our community and our business.”    

In the past year alone, Buena Vista has administered 1,200 vaccines, ranging from flu shots to HPV prevention. The pharmacy even offers travel consultations to ensure their patients leave with all the preventative immunizations and medications they may need. 

A step in the right direction

A service that local providers requested from Buena Vista Drug is rapid flu and strep testing. “We didn’t have urgent care clinics in our area a few years ago, or anywhere that offered rapid strep tests. It was definitely something our community needed,” says Lucas. Thanks to the positive relationships they have formed, the Buena Vista staff can usually call local physicians and receive prescriptions after confirming the flu or strep results. Furthermore, the pharmacy can consult and prescribe for smoking cessation and oral contraceptives. This is a direct result of the statewide legislation passed in 2018  — a step in the right direction for enhanced services and provider status for Colorado pharmacists. 

Buena Vista Drug was also the first accredited diabetes educator in Colorado and is currently one of two educators in the state. “We’re accredited to do the group DSME (Diabetes Self-Management Education) and bill Medicare for it,” Lucas explains. “Now, we’re working on getting recognized for our pre-diabetes prevention program.” 

He is also expanding his practice to a second location thirty miles south from the current Buena Vista store. The new store will offer all the clinical services the original location currently offers, along with a new addition. “We’re remodelling the new space to add a consult room,” says Lucas. “This will be dedicated to clinical things, which will offer more privacy to our patients.” 

As for their patients, the response to these clinical offerings has been widely positive. “We’re still informing our patients that we offer these services, which involves more marketing and conversations with patients and providers. Overall, the response has been positive!” Lucas adds, “We can’t bill insurances for point-of-care tests, yet our customers have been willing to pay out of pocket, which is great, as well.” 

As for pharmacies that may not be implementing clinical services, Lucas advises them to consider it a matter of when, not if, they will be necessary. “I think you have to offer clinical services, due to the current healthcare landscape,” he observes. “The most challenging part for us was figuring out how to work these services into our workflow, so make sure you reach out to your vendors (for us, it was STRAND and PioneerRx) when you have questions.”  

Click here for more on Buena Vista and other recipients of Health Mart’s 2019 awards.