One of my favorite memories as a pharmacist is when I was counseling a patient who was discharged from a hospital, and I was doing a medication therapy management with her, and I was telling her, “Okay, show me how you’ve been taking your Spiriva capsules.” She said, “Well, this is how I do it: I put the capsule in the device, and then I start inhaling.” And I replied, “How about pressing that button to pierce the capsule?’” And she says, “Oh, what button? Nobody ever told me about it!” She had been discharged out of the hospital without the proper education, which made her basically use the capsules for weeks without getting any medication at all into her systems.
As Wisconsin pharmacist Hashim Zaibak reflects on one of his favorite memories, he subconsciously acknowledges the value of medication therapy management for Hayat Pharmacy and his patients.
Hashim almost didn’t become a pharmacist, though he found joy in subjects like chemistry and biology as a student, and he wanted to make his father proud, especially since his father had his own dreams of being a pharmacist. Upon his arrival to the U.S. in 1992, however, Hashim was told the colleges of pharmacy were supposedly open only to U.S. citizens. Fortunately, Hashim’s advisor researched and found no reason why he couldn’t become a pharmacist. So, he applied for pharmacy school at the University of Illinois at Chicago and was accepted in 1995. Two years later, he became a registered pharmacist and moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Immediately after graduating, Hashim began working for chain pharmacies until 2011, when he took the plunge and opened his first independent pharmacy within a physician’s clinic. “I personally like the in-clinic pharmacies because you get the opportunity to take care of the customers and fill their prescriptions before they leave the building, which is pretty convenient, especially in a state like Wisconsin where the weather can be pretty challenging for six months.” Although Hayat has both stand-alone locations and stores within physicians’ clinic, Hashim sees the latter creating more successful pharmacies in the future. “I think we’re going to see more and more independents going with independent physicians in the same building. The fact that medication therapy management is part of our culture now, as far as independent pharmacies are concerned, this is going to help with physician partnerships. The physicians are noticing the benefits of MTMs. We obviously are benefiting from MTMs, and the patients are. So, I see more and more independent pharmacies going in the same building with independent physicians.”
No matter the location, Hayat Pharmacy has left a tremendous impact on the community of Milwaukee. Hayat, a literal translation of the Arabic word for “life,” is the creed for Hashim and his team. “We wanted a local, independent chain that could offer better life for the people of Milwaukee.” He lists Hayat’s three core services – MTM home education sessions, medication synchronization, and delivery – as the main reason Milwaukee continues becoming healthier.
Technology plays a large role in Hayat Pharmacy’s success with MTMs. “The integration between the software (like in our case, PioneerRx software) and Mirixa and Outcomes is extremely helpful in capturing those opportunities,” he explains. “It also flags the patients who need a comprehensive medication review. So, if the patient is at the pharmacy picking up a prescription and they are a candidate for a CMR, then the pharmacist can do it at the pharmacy immediately. That helps significantly.” Not only are these MTM “tips” convenient, they are also lucrative for Hayat Pharmacy. “Obviously, the reimbursement for those tips is needed. What also helps is the fact that we’re helping patients be more adherent to their medications. Being more adherent means more prescriptions for the pharmacy. It means that the insurance will have the chance to lower their expenses, and it means that the patient is healthier. It’s a win-win-win.”
Of course, alongside every great pharmacist is a team of employees who share the vision of the pharmacy. At nine locations and over 70 employees, including a team of MTM specialists, Hashim has had a hand in personally interviewing and approving each of Hayat’s staff members. “I have the biggest impact when I really connect with my people, my technicians, with my pharmacists, with my drivers. Managers, including myself, sometimes we isolate ourselves and we work out of our offices, and we start managing the business via phone calls and text messages and FaceTime, and sometimes that’s not the right way. You really have to go into the stores, talk to people. I love going to the stores and joking with my technicians.” The comradery amongst his staff can’t go unnoticed. In each store, laughter can be heard from behind the counter as the staff works, and the laughter grows louder when Hashim walks in. Hayat Pharmacy even has its own YouTube channel, and the staff members have worked together to record, edit, and upload the hilarious videos featured on the channel.
Now that they have perfected the art of medication therapy management, anything is possible for the future of Hayat Pharmacy. Hashim admits to working long hours, but he can’t help envisioning an even brighter future for Hayat. “For me, I really would like to see Hayat as a game-changer, a model for other pharmacies around the country to look at and see what Hayat did in Milwaukee that they can duplicate in their cities.”
Currently, Hayat is an exemplary pharmacy for medication therapy management. Any pharmacy can use Mirixa and Outcomes to improve their patient care and star ratings. MTMs are just the springboard for launching innovative practices for prosperous independent pharmacies and healthier communities.