Advancing The Profession of Pharmacy

Innovation: A Case Study of Year 2 in Online Business 2017

by | Dec 21, 2017 | Consulting Pharmacist Education

“In 2016, I focused on building the most unique e-Course and Community in the pharmacy industry.
In 2017, I created an innovative new platform for pharmacists to connect and idea share online.”

This post contains some affiliate links. Some referral links may also benefit the referred as well as the referee. You may contact me for more information about referral links, as always, I only recommend products that I actually use.

This post serves as a sort of diary for my second year in online business.  

If you want to check out what all has changed since Year 1, look here at My First 12 Months in Online Business.

In 2016, I focused on building one of the most unique e-Course and Communities in the pharmacy industry.  It was a ton of work, LOTS of time and dedication and incredibly rewarding.

In that post, I attempted to chronicle my first 12 months in “online business” and dispel some of the myths of how easy it is to create an e-course and make “passive income online”.

That being said, I’m so proud of the Academy and am proud to say that we’ve helped our members get some great results.

 

There are members who have built their MTM practice, gotten new jobs, integrated themselves into provider offices and started businesses that fuels their passion.

In 2017, my focus has on increasing the visibility of this amazing Community I have created at the PharmapreneurAcademy.com.

My “word” for 2017 was even VISIBILITY.  Though I had no idea just how visible I was making myself when I embarked on the biggest project I’d ever undertaken.

 

Building pharmacy’s FIRST Virtual Summit…

Visibility is great, until you realize that not all viewers are the positive, supportive bunch of humans you’d like to have.  Visibility means sticking your neck out, putting your butt on the line, betting an arm and a leg and various other corporal-related metaphors for vulnerability.

For me, my fears surrounding vulnerability manifested themselves in a few ways:

  1. I had to interview people (on camera) who (I felt) were WAY SMARTER than me
  2. I invested nearly $10,000 of my own money into production of my new Summit project
  3. I nearly doubled my prices and may have pushed away clients who didn’t value my time/training/information
  4. I invested another $10,000 into personal development trainings and business coaching so I would have the intestinal fortitude to overcome the aforementioned fears

So, without further delay, here’s the story of how my 2017 went and how I made it through with my neck, butt, arms and legs all intact.

(In addition to introducing an entirely new technology platform to a very old industry, I also managed to gestate another human throughout most of 2017… that is just how us female entrepreneurs roll…)

 

Advanced Business and Marketing: 201

I mentioned in my first year in online business the value of the coaching and masterminds.

This year, I stepped it up even more.

In 2017, I committed tens of thousands of dollars to investing in myself and my business.  I joined a 10 month Mastermind for 6-Figure Female Entrepreneurs that literally changed my life.

I continued working with Natalie Eckdahl, my wonderful business coach.

And I attended my first non-pharmacy conference for entrepreneurial women, BizChix Live.

Yes, I put my MONEY WHERE MY MOUTH is and invested in ME.

After this year, I can proudly say I’m not only a pharmacist, but am an EXPERT on online educational platforms and leveraging virtual content to attract an audience.

Imagine a Venn Diagram.

One circle is Pharmacists and the other is Online Marketing Experts.

 

How many people fit within those small overlapping ellipses?

I want to encourage you to invest in your “red circle” whatever that interest may be.

The overlapping center, my friend, is where you want to be.  There is the place where you can truly stand out and use your gifts.

Find that place!

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By investing in myself in this way, I’ve made myself unique in a profession of REALLY, REALLY smart people.This is how I’m going to leverage my skills and grow my business in 2018.But, I couldn’t have done it alone.  I truly feel that if you want to achieve something truly remarkable, you have to take BIG SCARY ACTION.

This may mean finding a business coach, investing a new education, volunteering at a new position or something equally as time and financially intensive.

However, I can assure you that following your interests and facing your fears while making a plan for overcoming them, it is TOTALLY worth it.

So without further musings, I want to tell you how the past 12 months have gone down here at BT Pharmacy Consulting, LLC.

Sit back and enjoy…

December 2016 – Virtual Summit Speaker Reach Out

If you’ll remember, I left my 2016 business update off in November 2016, with a cliffhanger in December about a few of my goals:

 

“My goal is to reach 10,000 pharmacists with my message and double the number of pharmacists taking part in the Academy.”

For much of 2016, I’d been doing some interviews for my blog and the Pharmacy Podcast and really loved getting to talk to all these super cool pharmacists.

I knew my passion was for innovation and entrepreneurship, but I wondered just how many other pharmacists had these interests.

So I started looking for the most innovative and interesting ideas and people I could find.

Pharmacy owners, consultants, academics and more were talking about how their very unique ideas, but I wanted to dig in further.

I wanted to sit down with those leaders that I saw up on stage at our national organization meetings and ask them, “So how EXACTLY did you make THAT happen?”

I made plans to reach out to them for interviews for my blog.

Then I thought, what if I could record and share these conversations online with THOUSANDS of pharmacists…

Around the same time, I had heard an interview on a podcast about a guy who “ran virtual summits”.

At the time, I really had no idea what that meant.  I’d never even attended a virtual summit until I decided to join this guy (who happened to be Navid Moazzezz) in his e-Course to learn more about virtual summits.

Again, investing more time and money into my own skills, I spent all of November and December 2016 learning from him and his community, while concurrently setting up interviews with the pharmacy experts I was hoping to share.

 

January, February, March – Pharmacy’s First Virtual Summit

 

January – Content Creation

Once I’d contacted all the speakers and experts I wanted to interview in December, I took off nearly the entire month of January and started the process of recording!

It was thrilling getting to speak with these brilliant people who I looked up to.  I was able to ask them the questions that I knew many other pharmacists had about how they achieved success and the advice they’d give to others.

My idea was to create a supplement to the hour-long CE lecture presentations we are so used to hearing and get to hear the speakers story in their own words.

Since I get this question A LOT, here’s a few of the tools I used to record and edit the interviews:

  • Calendly to set up interview times and make speaker communication simple
  • Google spreadsheet to track what we had, what we needed, and where we were in the process
  • Zoom to record interviews
  • Camtasia for editing interviews
  • Vimeo for hosting the videos


Beyond a few false starts (rescheduling and technical issues), we achieved the goal of 22 interviews to launch the Summit.

 

February – Summit Site Build-out

February began the buildout for the website.  In addition to offering all the videos for free during the five day event, we also decided to offer an upgrade for those who wanted to maintain access to the site.

We offered these upgrades in the form of an All-Access Pass (AAP) that would allow the passholder to access the members only area.

For the upgrade, we included access to the video files, audio files and word-for-word transcriptions.

It was never my intention for the Summit to be used as a staff training tool, but since then I’ve heard many pharmacy owners are using the Summit videos as an in-service type of program for their teams!

A few of the tools I used to create the All-Access Pass upgrades:

  • Speechpad for interview transcriptions
  • Dropbox for hosting the audio files
  • PDFs with transcriptions for Passholders

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I wanted to be sure to offer as much value as possible so I also created “key takeaway” blog posts for EVERY SINGLE INTERVIEW.  Quite a time commitment!

March – Marketing the Summit

Marketing for Summits usually begins in full swing 4-6 weeks before the event’s launch.

We started promoting the Summit through LinkedIn and on Facebook.  I did many Facebook Live videos and wrote several LinkedIn articles.

I also began publishing and sharing the “Key Takeaway” blog posts.  And we created graphics with key takeaways that where mobile friendly and easily sharable.

All of them linked back directly to our ElevatePharmacySummit.com landing page.

I then scheduled the DOZENS of graphics, posts, articles and videos to go out on social media in a constant way to create buzz.

We also began running some Facebook ads using video to promote the “first virtual conference in the pharmacy industry”.

To say it was well received would be an understatement!  Pharmacists were hungry for content and this new platform was a perfect place for them to get new ideas.

My Facebook advertising specialist was actually impressed by how well our ads performed and was excited by our return on investment.

A few tools I used to create the marketing campaign:

  • New graphics were created using Canva
  • MeetEdgar.com to set up social media campaigns
  • Facebook ads through a marketing specialist
  • ConvertKit for Summit registration and email communication

April, May and June – Summit launch and building new courses

April – Launch of ElevatePharmacySummit.com

Our inaugural event was April 5-9, 2017.

Over 1,800 pharmacists joined the first annual Elevate Pharmacy Virtual Summit in April 2017.  Those pharmacists consisted of students, pharmacy owners, academics, hospital pharmacists and consultants.

The reason I wanted to create such an inclusive product is because I believe our profession is too siloed.  

  1. Pharmacists from all specialties need to cooperate and communicate.  No one specialty is better than another.  We must all work together to elevate the entire profession and not leave any one faction of pharmacy behind.
  2. It identified our universal leaders.  As a pharmacist in the workforce for over 6 years now, I couldn’t even identify who were the “rock stars” of our profession.  We have pharmacists very active in certain pharmacy organizations, but not several who I could point out as representing our entire profession.

I envisioned branding pharmacy the way “Dr. Oz” has branded physicians.  A nationally recognized leader of the profession.

I’m not saying it needs to be a certain person, instead I’m challenging SOMEONE in pharmacy to do it.

 

I hoped that by identifying our leaders, sharing stories of entrepreneurship and “what was working” would help advance our profession to this recognition more quickly.

Life also changed a lot at this time, during the month of April.

Plus, my husband and I got to take a vacation together and traveled to the beautiful country of Chile.

Here’s some pictures of the Atacama desert, Tatio geysers, Chilean wine country and the Lincancabur volcano.

While we were there we experienced a 7.1 earthquake and I found out I was pregnant with our son.  Talk about a week to remember!

After the success of the Summit and our return from South America, I decided to refocus my efforts on building up the e-course and Community at the Pharmapreneur Academy.

May – Onboarding New Pharmapreneur Academy Members

When we returned to the states, it was back to work.  I was busy adding all the interviews from the Summit into the Pharmapreneur Academy.

I decided to offer our Summit All Access Passholders a special discount to join the Academy.

We had about a 7% conversion rate for pharmacists who decided to take us up on that special offer.

My focus during this quarter was improving the user experience in the Academy and onboarding our new members.

 

June – In-Person Connections

After doing so much online networking and connecting, I was happy to get the opportunity to do some in-person conferences during the Summer.

I spoke at the PioneerRx Connect event in New Orleans in June of 2017.

The conference was great and I had the honor of presenting on Collaborative Practice Agreements in a two-part presentation with my friend Amina Abubakar.

I discussed the How-to of creating the CPA and Amina shared her pharmacy’s journey of implementing Chronic Care Management and Annual Wellness Visits for their collaborative providers.

Amina’s presentation got me really looking in to Annual Wellness Visits and add-on Preventative Service Modifiers and was the inspiration for Lesson 10 in the e-course at the Academy.

Also, I was able to bring my husband and daughter with me since New Orleans is a short flight from Little Rock.  We had a blast at the Audubon Aquarium and Butterfly Conservatory.

July, August, September: Growth, Automation and Scaling

July – New Masterclasses and a Mastermind Program

In July, I decided to start adding new voices and experts into the Academy.  I decided to partner with other pharmacists to offer Expert Masterclasses to our members.

I want to thank Amanda Gaddy from Secure340B for doing an excellent training on 340B contractin.  And Adam Martin and Christina Tarantola from The Fit Pharmacist for discussing their health coaching business.

My goal is to continue to add other experts to the Academy in order to bring more voices and experiences to our members.

This month we brought in a lot of new members and I also created a Mastermind for female pharmacy owners.

I figured since my Mastermind had helped me grow so much as an entrepreneur, that others may enjoy being a part of a similar group.

I decided to launch to a beta group of interested female pharmacy owners, we ended up with 8 participants in the group that would prove the concept from August to October.

In July, I also began thinking of doing an Encore presentation of the Summit since so many people were contacting me and still interested in it.

I started the process again for adding 6 new interviews to the Encore presentation.

August – Representing Pharmacy as a Diagnostic Solution

In addition to being inspired by PioneerRx’s Connect event, I was also invited to host a panel at the Next Generation Diagnostics Summit in Washington D.C.

In person conferences are a GREAT PLACE for gathering inspiration.

The panel I hosted at the Summit in D.C. focused on use of Pharmacogenomic and Rapid Diagnostic Testing Services in community pharmacies.

The room was FULL.  But not of pharmacists, in fact, our panel members were the only pharmacists represented in the entire room!

In reality, the room was full of physicians, lab company representatives and genetic experts.  They admitted they had never identified pharmacy as a possible avenue for CLIA-waived lab tests.

 

I was honored to be able to represent our profession at this conference and share about what pharmacists are doing with diagnostic and point of care testing services.

From this inspiration, I began developing the training for Lesson 10 in the e-Course at the Academy.

As always, I started with my outline for the Lesson

  1. AWVS
    1. DEFINITION
    2. Codes
      1. Components of initial visit
      2. Components of subsequent visits
    3. Opportunities in AWV to offer additional services
  2. Preventative services modifiers
    1. Advanced care planning
    2. Alcohol misuse screening/counseling
    3. Tobacco cessation screening/counseling
    4. DSMT
    5. Intensive behavioral therapy for cardiovascular disease
    6. Intensive behavioral therapy for obesity
    7. Medical nutrition therapy
    8. Annual depression screening
    9. Vaccinations for medicare patients
  3. ROI for AWVs
  4. Update on CCM services
    1. Complex codes for 2017

​Then I created Slides based on this outline.

And finally, I recorded the presentation and added it to the e-course in the Academy.

During this time, I was also able to record those 6 new interviews for the September Summit Encore presentation.

I love to do research and create content!

September – Growth and Sustainability

September was a very challenging month for me.

We relaunched the Summit as an Encore presentation, but my heart wasn’t in it like the initial launch.  I was a bit disappointed with the reception of the encore and I don’t think I will do any encores in the future.

Stick to new content, lesson learned.

Also, I had been toying with the idea of raising the price of the Academy for a while.

I knew it needed to be done, but I was again overwhelmed by FEAR.

After all, I had added 28 new Virtual Summit interviews, 2 Expert Masterclasses, and a brand new Lesson 10 since our last price increase in January.

I knew how valuable the information in the Academy is, but I was afraid of losing my current clients and overpricing myself in the market.

 

“Fortunately, this is where Masterminding and my Business Coach came in to play.

My peers assured me I was under-valuing my trainings and my time.

Our mantra is that it was better to have 100 raving fans than 1,000 indifferent ones.”

So I took a chance and did what I felt had to be done to sustain the growth of the Academy.

I nearly doubled the price of the e-course and the monthly membership fee.

But, immediately I also freed up so much mental space for myself by achieving this “new level” in my business.

Plus, it allowed current Academy members to re-evaluate whether or not they were actually using the information in the Academy and sparked new participation levels.

I’m proud to say that we’ve retained our BEST MEMBERS and now I can be more committed than ever to helping them get results in their business.

Raising our prices was the scariest and best decision for the business.

But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t INCREDIBLY hard for me to do…

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October – BizChix Live and MACRA webinarAfter the “ickiness” of September wore off, I was ready to get back to business.

As I was recording Lesson 10 for the e-course at the Academy, I was also inspired by the contacts I had made at the Diagnostics Summit.

 

I kept thinking about quality measures and how pharmacists could act at purveyors of public health.

I decided to create a new webinar training on the subject of MACRA/MIPS quality measures.

Now, I hadn’t done a webinar training in over a year.  Registrations and attendance are hit or miss and I don’t love the “live” webinar feel.

I had already invested in Webinar Ninja so I figured we could put the webinar up for a short time and see how many pharmacists were interested.

In addition I began creating a list of Speakers that I wanted to ask to be featured on the 2018 Elevate Pharmacy Virtual Summit.  I know it seems early to start asking speakers for interviews in October/November for a conference that launches in March, but IT IS NOT!

 

The level of planning and organization it takes to pull off a virtual conference is NEXT-LEVEL compared to launching an e-Course.

This month I was also able to attend my first-ever non-pharmacy business conference at BizChix Live in Irvine, California.

There, I got to connect with my Mastermind group and Business Coach in person.

I’ve never felt more ‘in the right place’ than I felt at the conference for female entrepreneurs.

To be honest, most pharmacy conferences are great at content, but very poor at encouraging inclusion and networking.  Many times I feel like an outsider at these conferences and spend much of my time in my hotel room.

Not at BizChix!

I COMPLETELY abandoned by comfort zone when I sat down at tables where I didn’t know a single person and began conversations because there was such a tangible feeling of INCLUSION at this conference.

It was truly special.

At the conference we also were encouraged to put together our “Year-End Sprint for 2017” and started strategic planning objectives for Cycle 1 (January – May) of 2018.

SIDE NOTE: I love this idea of planning in three Cycles per year instead of Quarters.  Its so much more female and family friendly.

My Year-End-Sprint is what I focused on:

  • Creating on new webinar
  • Interviewing for 2018 Elevate Summit
  • Planning for last launch of the year

 

November – Vision Casting: Less Content, More Quality

I launched the Leveraging MACRA for Pharmacists webinar in early November.

I was BLOWN AWAY by the response.  Over the course of the few dates it was offered we trained over 350 pharmacists on Leveraging MACRA/MIPS Quality Measures and Creating Pharmacy Clinical Services around those measures.

 

A month later and people are still asking for access to that webinar.  But I don’t do encores anymore, remember? 🙂

Now that training is a part of the Pharmapreneur Academy and will be the basis of Lesson 11 in the e-Course on Prescriber Detailing.

In November I also began recording 2018 Elevate Summit interviews.  My goal was to have 15 interviews recorded before taking my maternity leave.

This would give my editor, designer and assistant plenty of time to work on the interviews during my leave and keep us on track for the site build out starting in January.

And finally preparing for the very last launch of the year before closing the doors of the Academy during the Holidays and my maternity leave.

It has become a tradition for us to give away one scholarship to the Academy each year.

For 2017, I decided to have applicants send in short video interviews telling their story and why they wanted to join the Academy.

I’m glad to say that we’ve awarded to scholarship to a very deserving individual and I hope that he will use it to its full potential.

In December, we also give our Academy members a chance to vote on which charity to donate to as a group.  One of the commitments I’ve made in my business is to donate 5% of each new enrollment to the Academy to a charitable cause.

This helps keep me motivated and it clearly shows our organizational values.

 

2018 A focus on INFLUENCE

My “word” for 2017 was visibility; I feel like I accomplished it and it led me down the right path.

 

The word I’ve chosen to represent 2018 is Influence.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines influence as: the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command.

Now, I realize that could come off a bit egotistical, but here’s the type of influence I hope to achieve:

  1. Leading by actions rather than words: speaking, sharing, educating and growing personally and professionally
  2. Staying positive in what others may perceive as an “undesirable profession”
  3. Sticking to my financial values like spending time with my family vs. spending money and charitable giving

And if you thought that last part was egotistical, here’s a list of a few things that I’m going to congratulate myself on again.

A few things I am most proud of in 2017:

  • The Elevate Pharmacy Virtual Summit
  • Building my email list to the point where I can promote causes/interests I believe in
  • The e-Course being awesome enough to charge $997 (and the courage to charge it)
  • Working 3 days per week while increasing my income 11% over the previous year
  • Spending a wonderful Summer at home with my daughter before she started pre-school
  • Being pregnant with our son and having a wonderful husband and family that supports my “crazy online business”

I thank you for reading and for a wonderful year.  I hope your Holidays are safe and happy.  See you in the New Year!

About the Author

Blair Thielemier, PharmD, is an MTM consultant pharmacist specializing in pharmacy billing models. She consults on and produces e-learning programs for state and national organizations, pharmacy wholesalers, payers, technology start-ups. She has books and online courses available for individuals looking to leverage their pharmacy knowledge into monetized clinical programs at PharmapreneurAcademy.com. She speaks internationally about trends in leveraging pharmacists to improve value-based care.

 

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