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Burmans refocuses on supplies

Burmans refocuses on supplies

PHILADELPHIA - After more than a half century in business, provider Steve Burman recently sold Burmans Pharmacy, the community pharmacy his father founded.

The sale, along with the sale in 2015 of Burmans Specialty Pharmacy to Diplomat Pharmacy for nearly $83 million, allows Burman to refocus on Burmans Medical Supplies, which specializes in wound care (80%) catheters (20%).

“Pharmacy is not an easy business these days with the PBMs,” said Burman, CEO of Burmans Medical Supplies. “It was definitely time to regroup.”

Regroup it has. Burmans Medical Supplies, which has about $12 million in annual revenues, has reorganized its top level leadership, appointed a new COO—Katie Battista—and redeveloped its website.

Both product categories reduce overhead costs—reduced inventory, no delivery trucks—for Burmans, making it an attractive proposition.

Additionally, wound care allows the provider to find opportunities within the broader health system mandate to lower costs, for example, by helping reduce hospital readmissions for infections.

“This has really been the perfect opportunity to look for efficiencies and opportunities to take on more business,” said Battista. “We perceive this an emerging opportunity with regard to addressing public health concerns.”

With an average patient age of 54, the provider isn't heavily dependent on Medicare and says its diversity of payers is part of its success, even as Medicare cuts trickle to other payers and squeeze profits, says Battista.

“Yes, our average order is going down, but our profit margins are still strong,” she said. “With our diversity, we don't hurt as much and we've been pretty aggressive in getting contracts.”

Burmans picks up approximately 50 new wound care patients each day, with an average length of service of two three months. The ongoing documentation requirements for wound care presents its own challenges, but Burmans clinical expertise—Steve Burman is himself a pharmacist—sets it apart as it seeks to grow the business.

“I always try to make everything as clinical as possible,” said Burman. “I filled prescriptions for a long time and it's cut and dry. To fill a wound care order, we have to see and evaluate the wound. There are so many factors that go into it.”

Over the years, Burmans Medical has done pretty much everything, from DME and respiratory to specialty and compounding pharmacy to wound care and other disposable supplies. He says he's always been one to proceed with caution.

“I look for long-term and steady growth, maybe in the range of 5% to 10% in revenues,” he said. “I'm in it for the long haul.”

As for the sale of the pharmacy, which specialized in compounding, that his father started in 1965? Burman says its pretty much business as usual. He sold it to the pharmacist who has been running the business for the past 10 years.

“He's a great compounder,” he said. “And my dad still works there one or two days a week.”

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