'Purple cow' helps pharmacies stand out

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ALEXANDRIA, Va.--A new online resource aims to help community pharmacists compete when it comes to national competitive bidding, accreditation and chain store competition.

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and Roche Diagnostic in April launched the Diabetes Supply Center. Accessed through www.pharmacistelink.com, it offers information on Medicare mandates like NCB and surety bonds, as well as business tools, news and blogs, all aimed at pharmacy providers that offer diabetes supplies.

“There are many pharmacists who describe their practice as being mainly diabetes so we want to make sure they are up to date on these regulations and legislative initiatives,” said Bill Popomaronis, vice president of long term and home health care pharmacy for NCPA.

The site also aims to make users aware of the opportunities in their community to help patients with diabetes - and set themselves apart from the competition.

“We like to call it a purple cow,” said Popomaronis. “A purple cow is unique. What differs you from your competition and allows you to compete?”

There’s plenty of patients to compete for. There are 17.5 million people with diabetes in America, who spend, on average, $2,500 a year at community pharmacies, according to a 2007 American Diabetes Association study.

It’s not just about selling medicine, said Popomaronis. Community pharmacists can offer a breadth of products, along with a strong personal touch, to keep customers coming back.

“I am not aware of many of the bigger stores doing therapeutic shoes or self-management training,” he said. “There are all kinds of things pharmacists can do.”