Each independent pharmacy began as a startup. They each started with an entrepreneur taking the future in their own hands in order to improve the way things are done in their community.
Today I am excited to share the story of a company that has been on my radar for quite a while. While researching DIR fees, the Internet led me to iMedicare. After learning more about how iMedicare can help community pharmacies provide assistance to Medicare beneficiaries, I am happy to include an interview with Flaviu, CEO and co-founder of iMedicare, in the Community Pharmacy Toolkit series.
What is iMedicare?
iMedicare is a software service that empowers community pharmacies to thrive in today’s competitive and complex healthcare ecosystem. Over 4,700 pharmacies use iMedicare to provide a unique and comprehensive service to their patients through free Medicare plan comparisons. iMedicare also helps pharmacists improve Star Ratings, maximize reimbursements from insurance companies, and increase their Medicare business. We turn community pharmacists into superheroes and seniors into a financially and physically healthier population.
How did iMedicare start?
iMedicare was founded in 2012 by Matthew Johnson, finishing his PharmD at the time, and myself, with the purpose of providing a suite of software solutions to enable community pharmacies to help patients more effectively. Matthew saw the need for more transparency in the pharmacy industry. Having a background in technology, we decided to do something about it to make the industry a little bit more transparent.
How does iMedicare help the independent and community pharmacy owners?
Independent and community pharmacy owners can be spread thin managing their businesses. Their profit margins are now more than ever at risk, due to the major lack of industry transparency. They also face the risk of having their customers pressured to change to big-box pharmacies or mail order pharmacies by certain plans.
Based on their contracts, pharmacies can be paid more or less for the same medications from different insurance plans. This can make managing their business expensive, more involved, and very difficult to keep track of.
While the primary goal of iMedicare is to help patients select the best Medicare Part D plan option available to them, iMedicare also helps pharmacies better manage their businesses by fostering increased industry transparency, improving Star Ratings, and ultimately leveraging the competitive advantage big box pharmacies hold over hometown shops.
More specifically relating to the platform, iMedicare helps pharmacies by:
- Simplifying the process of comparing Medicare plans to help patients select the best option for them, which ultimately fosters increased patient retention and loyalty to the pharmacy.
- Helping to improve pharmacy Star Ratings through the automatic identification of patients who are non-adherent by providing actionable solutions.
- Automating the patient outreach process to bring additional business into the pharmacy.
Do you aid the pharmacy in marketing Medicare Open Enrollment to patients? Why is marketing so important?
Marketing Medicare Open Enrollment is extremely important to both the health of patients, and also the profitability of community pharmacies. We provide iMedicare pharmacies with both free and downloadable print materials, online marketing materials, support and tips to bring patients in based on the best practices of other community pharmacies who have found success with various marketing tactics.
It is very important for community pharmacies to maximize their marketing efforts as much as possible both throughout the year, and during Open Enrollment. The heavy advertisement used throughout the pharmaceutical industry by drug companies, insurance companies, and big-box pharmacies can be confusing for patients. We empower the community pharmacies to help the patient understand where they should start their search to find the best plan option.
Do you have a suggested process for a pharmacist to follow when selecting a patient’s plan? Workflow issues, what to look for, etc.?
- The first step is to review the patient’s medications. It’s important to take into consideration medications they may be receiving at another pharmacy.
- Once the drug profile is reviewed it is important to identify the patient’s current plan, if they’re already enrolled in one, to evaluate potential cost savings.
- Once the most beneficial options are identified, a printout can be generated to for the patient to review. It provides details on each medication’s anticipated cost and helps the beneficiary can make an informed decision.
iMedicare was designed to seamlessly integrate into pharmacy’s existing workflow. We work closely with several pharmacies serving on our board to ensure all improvements and newly available benefits are closely aligned with any workflow or usability concerns pharmacists typically encounter.
What makes iMedicare different or better than using the free Medicare.gov plan selector?
It is the difference between riding a horse and taking a plane. Using iMedicare is a significantly faster process. iMedicare integrates with every pharmacy system to proactively identify patients on the least beneficial plans, their current medications and potential formulary changes. It then targets these patients with a phone call, text message, or letter. This automation saves hours of tedious work for the pharmacy.
One of the iMedicare founders is a pharmacist. Why is promoting entrepreneurship in pharmacy important?
Most independent pharmacies began as a startup. They each started with an entrepreneur taking the future in their own hands to try to improve the way things are operated in their community. They treat their patients as friends and neighbors. Not a number. Not a dollar sign. They value their patients in a way most other healthcare providers do not. We share those same values at iMedicare.
What can the independent and community pharmacies do TODAY to make an impact on their patients lives?
Make it a point to reach out to 10 of Medicare eligible patients today. Open Enrollment lasts until December and it is critical to ensure the success of the pharmacy in 2017.
I want to thank Flaviu for being on the blog today, and reminding us why enhanced patient services are important to the future of independent and community pharmacy.
Remember, Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period runs from October 15th through December 7th. Make sure your pharmacy is involved in helping patients choose plans that best fit their needs.
This new blog series will focus on tools that help community pharmacy implement and integrate enhanced patient services.
The new series is called the Community Pharmacy Toolkit…
Some of these tools focus on streamlining workflow, integrating new services, improving interoperability, making for easier documentation or even just some services that I think are really cool.
If you’d like to stay up to date and be notified of each new article in this series, join the Pharmapreneur Community Newsletter.