You make your way down the eastern side of the square, and at the corner, Tyson Drug stands as proudly as it first did 120 years ago. After passing underneath the stained glass “Tyson Drug” sign, you push open the door and, thank goodness, the air conditioning immediately draws you in. As you take in the scene, you see a line of adults and youth patiently waiting in line at the soda fountain, and the 5:00 crowd is in full force at the pharmacy counter. Despite the mass of people, each Tyson employee is calm and, oddly, cheerful as they work the final thirty minutes of their day.
And in what was formerly a bank vault, Bob Lomenick now sits in his office, a shrine to the things that matter most to him: framed photos of his family grace the walls, a degree and honor cords from Ole Miss are suspended behind him, and a sample box of strip packaging rests by his elbow.
“A lot of patients are taking multiple medications, and they need to be organized. [The traditional business model] is a very unorganized business model. So I’ve taken that unorganized business model and created an adherence program where we manage the medications for the patients instead of leaving it up to them to manage.” In order to boost adherence, Bob has turned to Medication Synchronization aka “MedSync,” and Parata is the method of approach he takes to organizing his business. Parata PASS creates strip packages with the proper dosages and times for each patient, and Parata Check PASS scans each individual package on the strip to ensure everything is correct.
How does Tyson Drug benefit? “We get healthier patients. Our workflow is much better. It’s a more controlled environment,” Bob answers. “We basically fill prescriptions when we want to, not when the patients feel like they need to.”
Indeed. No matter how busy the store gets, Bob’s staff continuously works with determination and optimism. When putting together his staff, Bob has a penchant for reading potential employees. “I want outgoing personalities, someone who’s not afraid to communicate with people… I really spend a lot of time with my employees and create a really good culture, a culture where when a patient walks in my pharmacy, they have that ‘aha’ moment. They feel good when they leave my pharmacy. They know that they’re going to be well taken care of.”
When he was in high school, Bob had a part-time job at a local independent pharmacy, which he attributes as his start in the pharmacy business. After finishing pharmacy school, he was trained by the former owners of Tyson Drug and eventually took over when they retired. Although he isn’t from Holly Springs, Bob grew up in a small town, so he understands and appreciates the culture and history of the square. “We are very fortunate to still have an active square in Holly Springs. So many of these smaller towns have dried up, but we have a very active main street and chamber association. We have a robust square, and thank goodness Tyson is a part of that.” He affirms that, with the small town life, “everyone knows everyone,” but Bob uses this to his advantage when connecting with his patients.
Bob recognizes the critical need for independent pharmacies to serve a purpose other than filling prescriptions. Aside from excellent pharmacy services, Tyson also features an old-fashioned soda fountain and gift shop. “I really cater to the children. I want them to come in and get ice cream… I get them trained to come to Tyson at a young age,” he jokes with a grin. “We have a gift shop, and we try to find those unique items you can’t find in other stores.” He also emphasizes the importance of community health. “We try to be part of the community in general. We have open houses during the holidays. We do diabetes days where we give away free meters. We are just very involved in the community.” And if a pharmacy is struggling to find their “niche” in their surroundings, Bob recommends they, “look around their community and see what kind of setting there is.” Every town is different, so every need is different, too.
Bob also understands the need for independent pharmacies to pay attention to current events. The 5-star program, in his opinion, is “one of the few good things the government has been involved in” since the ultimate goal is patient health. Because insurance companies want patients to take their prescriptions consistently, they will seek out pharmacies with high adherence numbers, which Bob calls a “win-win” for everybody.
However, a big challenge for independent pharmacists is dealing with low reimbursements. “If you get your business organized,” he advises, “you can be a lot more productive and fill a lot more prescriptions. You’re getting the same reimbursement, but you’re doing it a lot more efficiently.” Again, he relates efficiency and workflow with MedSync, which, in his opinion, is “the most under-utilized process in pharmacy.” He urges pharmacists to “just start with one patient, then two. It will change your life. I started six or seven years ago, and it’s completely changed the way I look at my business model. Just take the first step.”
Since he has taken over the original Tyson Drug location, Bob has opened two more pharmacies. For new pharmacists seeking to start their own business, he reminds them, “There’s plenty of opportunities out there… but you have to get involved with your community… It’s an investment, and how you manage that investment is how well that investment will do for you.” For pharmacists looking to open multiple locations, he advises…
“Look at the medical community and see what the flows are. Certainly, if you have a new clinic that pops up, there’s an advantage to being close. I’m not the youngest puppy around, but there’s lots of opportunities out there, and I wouldn’t hesitate.”
“The pharmacy profession is fun, and we should be having fun every day!” Bob attributes his “fun” atmosphere to the ease and simplicity that Parata PASS and other systems have brought to his pharmacy.