CSI Specialty Pharmacy PodcastThe old adage “If you build it, they will come,” does not apply to the world of specialty pharmacy.

Many retail pharmacies desire to enter the specialty pharmacy realm, but few succeed. This week’s episode focuses on retail pharmacies or chains that have not yet built out their specialty pharmacy capabilities and wish to learn about industry best practices when entering the exploratory phase and developing their specialty pharmacy strategy.

Tune in as Cam Jones, regional business development manager for CSI Specialty Group, shares how to develop a customized blueprint for a special pharmacy buildout. As a seasoned healthcare sales and consulting veteran with more than 20 years of experience in the field, Cam has guided retail pharmacies through every phase of the specialty pharmacy buildout process.

In this podcast, you’ll discover:

  • How to avoid common pitfalls encountered when entering the specialty pharmacy marketplace
  • Where to best focus resources to maximize the impact and effectiveness of a new specialty pharmacy
  • How to differentiate yourself from your competitors as a new specialty pharmacy
  • Best practices in designing and implementing the roadmap for your specialty pharmacy buildout

About Cam Jones

Cam Jones is a proven business development leader with more than 20 years of dynamic sales, management and consulting experience within a diversity of specialty healthcare markets. He is a specialist within the specialty pharmacy and hospital sales verticals, with a proven history of building customer success strategies and sales training courses. He’s also an avid tennis player and coach.

About CSI Specialty Group

CSI Specialty Group is a globally recognized leadership consulting firm dedicated to providing solutions that continually elevate the specialty pharmacy industry and improve the patient journey. By providing inventive consulting, workforce planning and talent acquisition solutions, we uniquely tailor our service offerings to help clients drive sustainable, accelerated growth.

As the producer of the industry’s first dedicated podcast for specialty pharmacy and the publisher of the Annual State of Specialty Pharmacy Report, CSI is at the forefront of pioneering innovative concepts to meet the changing needs of specialty pharmacy, home infusion, mail order/PBM, health systems and pharma/biotech clients across the USA and throughout Europe.

For more information about CSI Specialty Group, visit www.CSIgroup.net.

About CSI University

CSI University is the industry’s leading online training platform specific to specialty pharmacy sales professionals.

After years of conducting successful on-site training, CSI University’s online sales training course offers groundbreaking, cutting-edge and on-demand training to new and existing sales representatives of specialty pharmacies. The program is built from the ground-up to ensure individuals and entire sales teams are ready and able to take their game to the next level and optimize sales to expand their company’s foundation in the ever-changing marketplace.

Transcript Notes

Announcer: Welcome to the Specialty Pharmacy podcast, your prescription for specialty pharmacy success! Now, here’s your host, globally recognized industry leader and CEO of CSI Specialty Group, Suzette DiMascio.

Cam Jones: This is Cam Jones, Regional Business Development Manager with CSI Specialty Group. On today’s podcast, I’m gonna talk about strategies for a successful specialty pharmacy implementation. The target audience really is the retail pharmacy. Could include a chain, or a health system that has not yet built out their specialty pharmacy capabilities. But primarily, the retail pharmacy, in the exploratory phase of developing a specialty pharmacy strategy.

My experience, over 15 years selling, managing, consulting within specialty pharmacy, many of those years I’ve worked closely with retail pharmacies, helping really guide them through this process by designing a customized road map or blueprint on their specialty pharmacy build out. Really the purpose of this podcast … it’s an overview of the specialty pharmacy implementation, but it’s really I hope more best practices that will help a retail pharmacy that’s moving into specialty pharmacy avoid the common pitfalls experienced by others in this complex and challenging … throughout this complex and challenging process.

So, first thing I’ll talk about, really is just more of a lead in, just more about the reason why you’re entering the specialty pharmacy market in the first place. It’s just really important to have a clear and concise understanding as to the why. Obviously it’s gonna be a new, you know, you seeking a new revenue stream, your health system may be looking at cost containment, population health management, expanding patient services offering, et cetera. But for that retail pharmacy moving into specialty, it’s just important to know why you’re entering the space, and what really leads to the first question, and the critical question, is, who do you wanna service with your specialty pharmacy.

And this is the first pitfall that often is encountered, because what happens is, I’m big into sports analogies, and the Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” Well this is … that’s not the case here. And oftentimes, when the resources and the dollar, the spend, is there from an investment standpoint, you wanna recoup, at least you wanna get some revenue flowing to the pharmacy. And lot of times what happens is, without doing some reconnaissance in a market, and without really understanding the process, the tendency is to put reps into the marketplace and to be kind of all things to all people, right, and try to sell to everyone and everything.

So, really that’s the first, best practice, is to be specialized to your capability, be focused, and think smaller. Don’t think bigger. You want to establish your credibility. One way a retail can do that is say, for example, if you have HIV specialization, we can open up your infectious disease, you can establish credibility to payers, that kind of thing. So if you have a capability, if you have a specialization, focus in that area, and typically a new specialty pharmacy has a lot of success in RA and derm, for example. You can have access, it’s relatively good business, there’s a lot of opportunity in those particular two disease states, as an example.

Services. This is critical. Lot of services provided by specialty pharmacy are required, and the best practice is I talk about, you know, we all know prior authorization, benefits investigation, the patient assistance programs, et cetera. It’s not good enough to just have personnel have these services in place, you have to be exceptional. Because when you enter a marketplace, you’re going up against pharmacies with limited distribution access, and payer contracts, and relationships with other specialty pharmacies. So there has to be a differentiator, and that differentiator often can be, and needs to be, your service levels. They need to be exceptional. A lot of times your big specialty pharmacies, Walgreens, and CVS, and others, they have the volume, they have the contracts, their service levels often aren’t good.

Now, you may have community Walgreens in certain locales are very strong, because they’re independently operated, so you need to focus in this area, and get good people, and train them, and when you actually go to market, make sure operationally you’re buttoned up in this area.

This is very important. Very important.

Identifying resources, and really, associated costs of operating a specialty pharmacy. A lot of hidden costs, there’s obviously a lot of obvious costs, I mean location, the bricks and mortar, all the costs that go into that. But the processing software, your systems, your pharmacy workflow systems. If you have salespeople, a CRM system is critical. You cannot operate a specialty pharmacy with salespeople without CRM. I’ve seen it, and in almost every situation, you have … this goes back to my earlier podcast … you have ineffective salespeople. There is no way to effectively manage a sales territory without a CRM. But that’s, I’m gonna talk about that specifically on another podcast.

So you need to invest there, you need to invest some dollars in those systems. Staffing’s important, CSI has a talent acquisition division, we work with a lot of pharmacies and organizations, and we place very high caliber people, so if you need help, contact CSI. But staffing’s important. Pharmacists, technicians, salespeople, support people, they need to be experienced, or if not experienced, trained. That’s critical.

They have to again, going back to exceptional levels of service, it’s very important.

Don’t … best practice. Don’t overlook your shipping department. I’ve seen this countless times. Sales strong, operations strong, intake strong, everything is buttoned up, but there’s shipping challenges. That can cost you business. It also can put you in the red, there’s a lot of expense to delivery with ice packs and all the special handling needed for the specialty biologics. So you need to really make sure you have some good procedures in place, that you have good people in place, and don’t overlook it, ’cause I’ve seen it before, where shipping alone, or mistakes made, can cost you business.

Where do you start? You wanna start small, I mean there’s some things you can do, employee groups going after a one drug, one disease stake carve out. If you’ve got some capabilities in specialization. It’s just … it’s important, just initially, think small, gain that expertise, get that credibility, and then you can expand into multiple disease states. But again, if you were to start in RA and derm, that’s a good place to start. Certainly the GI is another area, typically, I mean if you start in RA, GI, and derm, I mean those are … that’s a really good, strong starting point.

Planning. Plans. Very important to have an operational plan, a marketing plan, in place moving forwards. Very important. As we talked about having good people in place and trained, on your intake team, and having all of the services, making sure that you are buttoned up in that area. It’s important to have a pair reimbursement strategy as well. It is challenging, limited distribution and payer contracts, but the more specialized you are, the more capabilities that you show, can demonstrate, and the more data that you share with the manufacturers in the pairs, the more access, potentially, you can get. So it’s very important to have a pair reimbursement strategy and engage the pairs. It’s very important to have your software systems, your workflow systems that you can provide data reporting to the manufacturers and pairs is really important.

And then a marketing plan. You need to have an effective message to the physicians, to the pairs if you’re direct to patients, et cetera. So you need to make sure, basically the takeaway is that your teams, your systems are in place, you can provide all your services at exceptional levels, your team is trained, and that you’re engaging your pairs, and your manufacturers. You have a strategy, short and long-term, on a go forward basis, and you’ll be successful.

And so I’ll talk more about it more specifically later, but I just wanna wish you the best of luck. And remember, as a new specialty pharmacy, you’re likely only gonna get one, possibly two, opportunities to win new business. So it’s imperative that you’re committed initially to service excellence, because it will really, truly potentially be a differentiator, and it will help establish credibility. And once that’s done, then offices will trust you with their patients.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to the Specialty Pharmacy podcast. If there’s anything we mentioned in today’s show you missed, don’t worry, we take the show notes for you at CSIgroup.net/podcast. If you’re not already a subscriber, please consider pressing the subscribe button on our podcast player, so you never miss one of our future episodes, and if you haven’t given us a rating or a review on iTunes yet, please find a spare minute and help us reach and educate even more of our specialty pharmacy peers.

The Specialty Pharmacy podcast is a product of CSI Specialty Group, your go-to firm for all things specialty pharmacy. Thanks again for listening, and we’ll catch you next time. Doctor’s orders!

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About The Specialty Pharmacy Podcast

Join host Suzette DiMascio, CHE, CMCE, CPC, President and CEO of CSI Specialty Group, as she answers questions, addresses concerns and discusses the news you need to stay on top of the ever evolving world of specialty pharmacy. Tune in every episode to hear real world examples of the good, the bad and the outrageous from the experts at CSI Specialty Group, and to learn about the limitless growth opportunities available in the specialty pharmacy industry.