Independent pharmacies are constantly accomplishing amazing feats that usually go without recognition. That’s why we love it when organizations like NCPA’s Innovation Center give pharmacies the opportunity to highlight all the wonderful things they’re doing. This year, NCPA awarded three PioneerRx users NCPA Innovation Center Excellence (NICE) Awards for their outstanding work, and we wanted to discover how they earned these honors.
Among all the qualities that set community pharmacies apart from the chains, convenience is a resounding factor that separates those who just dispense from those who genuinely care about their patients. Targeting an unmet need with the right products and services improves customer convenience and is a stepping stone to building better patient relationships. Good Day Pharmacy in Loveland, CO, was awarded the 2018 NICE Award for Best Customer Convenience Improvement for their work to supply a solution that was difficult for their patients to find anywhere else.
Good Day Pharmacy has been helping Colorado residents across 10 locations since 1985. From specialty medications to home delivery, Good Day caters to the local townsfolk as well as patients in the rural areas. In 2014, the Fort Collins location debuted the Breast Care Center for women with breast cancer who undergo mastectomies and augmentations and need prosthetics, one-on-one sessions, and other pre and post-surgery essentials. Prior to the opening of this special area of the pharmacy, patients had to drive an hour away to find somewhere that offered breast cancer-related resources, and people living in the outskirts of Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas had to travel further or resort to ordering their breast forms online and risk purchasing the wrong size without a proper assessment. The center employs two Amoena-certified fitters who help patients determine the right prosthetics they will need post-surgery, which was an underserved need, according to Good Day’s Marketing Director, Karen Price. “We identified a niche in our northern Colorado area that wasn’t being met,” she explains. “Women who were undergoing treatment for breast cancer were having to buy prostheses online without having a personalized fitting.”
Although prosthetic consultations aren’t a common pharmacy practice, Good Day discovered an obvious gap in patient care and strives to fill it. “I couldn’t imagine wearing a bra and having a breast form inside that’s not the right size and fit, not to mention how uncomfortable that would be,” Karen relates. “Feeling natural is part of the physical and emotional healing process.” The Good Day Breast Care Center even partners with Hope Lives! The Lydia Dody Breast Cancer Support Center to offer patients additional support during cancer treatment.
Heather Robinson, the primary Amoena-certified fitter, anticipates more opportunities through the center. It has already expanded to a second location closer to Denver, and there are talks of opening a third location. “We’re continuously working with the doctors trying to figure out what their patients’ needs are,” she says. “Hope Lives! also wants to work with us further on the medication portion for their clients.” Good Day Pharmacy offers compounded creams and is looking into an oral medication for patients who develop mouth sores during chemotherapy. Heather notes that many insurance policies cover the cost of prosthetic products, and Good Day provides complimentary insurance billing to make the process easier. As the Good Day Breast Care Center continues to grow, she remains focused on her patients’ needs, even if it’s just lending a sympathetic ear. “We’re kind of like counselors,” she says. “They need someone to listen to them, so we’re there for them for more than their prosthetic needs.”
The staff at the Breast Care Center have many memories of their customers, but a story of one elderly patient stands out to Heather. Although she underwent a single mastectomy 20 years prior, the patient had never received a proper form. Instead, she had resorted to filling her bra with tissues. Heather remembers how ecstatic her customer was to learn about the different forms available to her, which was covered by her insurance. “Women usually walk in feeling gloomy about their situations, but if they’re smiling and happy when they walk out the door, we know we’ve done the best in our abilities to help them.”
Overall, Good Day Pharmacy has received a positive response from the community since opening their first center. “From a PR perspective, it’s created a lot of buzz,” Karen observes, “but it really helps to have a marketing plan and a team to roll it out.” Just like any niche, it will take a lot of invested time in order to succeed. For pharmacies interested in opening their own breast cancer-focused centers, Karen says, “It’s going to take doing the homework, and be sure to analyze your competition.”
As medication dispensing gradually becomes less profitable, independent pharmacies can use this as an opportunity to stand out by offering convenient services that are hard to find elsewhere.