DrugCo: One-stop shop for HME—and fishing poles

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

ROANOKE RAPIDS, N.C. - Provider Marty Jones' patients all have his cell phone number.

"I get a lot of calls," said Jones, director of home care services for Roanoke Rapids, N.C.-based DrugCo Discount Pharmacy. "But all home health companies have the same equipment. Where we try to differentiate at DrugCo is through service."

Despite continued cuts to Medicare and Medicaid—DrugCo's biggest payers—the provider, like everybody else, strives to do more with less, including a "very lean" staff of six.

"I have a great staff," he said. "It's tough, but if you do it right, everything falls into place."

The 20-year-old pharmacy, with locations in the rural communities of Roanoke Rapids and Littleton, offers a full line of durable medical equipment and respiratory products and services. DrugCo also has several hospice contracts and, well, a pretty good selection of fishing gear.

"Our floor manager is an avid fisherman," said Jones. "We have a nice lake in our area and a lot of people say they come into DrugCo for the (fishing items)."

Stocking rods and reels is a tiny part of how the provider makes itself part of its community. The company hosts outreach activities like diabetic and CPAP days, and Jones often speaks at local schools, community colleges and various community groups.

"It shows you are involved with the community and you end up getting more support and new customers out of it," he said.

Jones, a respiratory therapist, joined the company full time about a year ago. In that time, the company has made several process improvements like streamlining its billing and intake processes, and implementing an automatic calling program that reminds patients when it's time to order diabetes test strips or CPAP supplies.

"Patients don't think about replacing their masks until the mask starts to leak," said Jones. "We've about tripled our mask sales."

At the end of the day, Jones says that as long as the customer benefits, so will DrugCo.

"I want to make a sale but I am also an RT and if I can help somebody start using their CPAP, (I will)," he said. "Word of mouth benefits us, too."