Pharmacy

How Smith Pharmacy’s Prescription Drug Savings Benefit Patients

Smith Pharmacy uses smarter purchasing to find the best options for their patients and their business.

Calvin Hunsicker

Calvin Hunsicker

Calvin is a former pharmacy owner who decided there needed to be a better way for pharmacies to purchase smarter. This led him to found SureCost and serve as the Chief Product Officer, guiding innovation at SureCost. With over three decades of pharmacy experience, Calvin is excited to share some key insights on the best way to save time and money through purchasing smarter. Calvin works with pharmacies across the country to set the vision at SureCost. Our mission is to ensure pharmacy teams save more, stay compliant and work smarter.

Smith Pharmacy is an independent, full-service retail pharmacy. Family-owned and operated, this 50-member team is dedicated to providing low-cost, patient-focused pharmacy services to Wisconsin’s Fox Valley community.

That community has come to rely on Smith Pharmacy for both inexpensive medications and high-quality, attentive service. Yet for a while, and like many pharmacies, finding the best purchasing option was a challenge for them.

The Challenge

Unfortunately, the pharmacy purchasing ecosystem often buries the best purchasing options within a mass of data across different catalogs, categories, vendors and purchasing interfaces. Founder and owner Nic Smith describes some of the obstacles to pricing transparency he’d encounter in a single workday:

We used to get phone calls every day from all these people with their specials and their sales, and you don't have time to sit and compare. We don't want to be switching manufacturers all the time. We don't want your mom to come in here, get their [medication], and it looks different for the third time in a row. We just didn't have time for it.

It wasn’t just comparing offers. And it wasn’t just affecting Nic. As he explains, their manual process meant his entire team lost hours they’d otherwise spend with patients:

What we did originally was to huddle up for pricing. We had three or four secondary wholesalers, and we used to go to our shelf and put items that were substantial savings from those secondary wholesalers into buckets. That would be our cue that we could get substantial savings through a secondary vendor. But it was very labor-intensive. And even then, prices change all the time, so there wasn't a great way to make sure that price was still correct. 

The Solution

To overcome this challenge, Smith Pharmacy implemented a unified purchasing management solution. SureCost allowed them to integrate all their vendors—primary and multiple secondaries—into a single solution. 

As Nic explains, that means savings he can spot right away:

SureCost helped us tremendously to streamline all that. It allows us to be on our time to look through it all…And the pricing is in real time. Sometimes, when a drug first becomes generic, a primary wholesaler might keep that price up while secondaries drop it right away. You can have hundreds of dollars of savings on one med.  

SureCost also enables the team at Smith Pharmacy to make all purchases from their entire vendor portfolio. “You don't have to go to the third-party websites to order,” Smith notes. “You can purchase it all on one platform.” 

In addition to comparing and purchasing products through a single platform, SureCost also enables Smith Pharmacy to automate specific purchasing decisions around compliance and other requirements while streamlining workflows.

The Benefits

After a two-week configuration, Smith Pharmacy began seeing ROI with SureCost within a week, which has continued to increase since then. Among more recent examples of his savings, Nic mentions one dermatological drug listed at $190 by his wholesaler while six other vendors were selling it for just ten dollars.

Nic even quantified the impact SureCost makes on his pharmacy’s bottom line:

About three years ago, we were debating switching to a different buying group. It had better pricing than our current group but was more rigid in allowing us to buy outside. We needed to know if the switch was worthwhile, so we did an analysis. It turned out SureCost was saving us over $200,000 a year. And it’s probably closer to $300,000 now…Basically, the savings from SureCost allow us to have another two pharmacists on staff. It more than pays for itself.

Nic and his team are proud to pass these savings along to their customers. As numerous testimonials online and in-person show, patients know that Smith Pharmacy offers the best prices on medications alongside dependable care. 

“We want to pass the savings on to the customers,” says Nic. “We certainly don't want them paying more than they should.”

In addition to the team providing their expertise on prescription drugs, they consistently ensure patients can actually get those products:

One of the biggest benefits [of SureCost] is availability. If somebody doesn't have a drug, it's nice to be able to look and find somebody that does. We're a large-volume store. We do over 1,500  prescriptions a day, and we get a lot of unusual requests all the time…If a patient has a prescription, they need it today and a vendor doesn't have that drug, we can look and find somebody that does. If it wasn't for SureCost, I'd have to log into 10 different wholesalers and look independently on each one to see if they have it or not. 

Nic shares another story about the connection between purchasing optimization and patient satisfaction:

I got a note from a customer who said “this bottle sucks.” His exact words! The physical bottle for these eye drops is different from the other ones. It’s really stiff and hard to squeeze, and his wife has arthritis and couldn't use it very well. She liked the other one a lot better. So, I went into SureCost and found a different manufacturer for the same price [with a bottle that’s] bigger, easier to hold onto and more pliable. Then I called him and said, “Hey tomorrow, it'll be in: you'll have a different manufacturer with the notes in there.” That made a huge difference for that patient.

Nic and his team also rely on several reports from SureCost to enhance their operations and provide business intelligence for strategy. As just one example, Nic describes the integrated purchase history making returns much easier “because one of the downfalls of purchasing from so many vendors is that you have to deal with so many vendors. When we have to return something, to try to find where we got it and where we can return it is huge.”  

The Full Story

Saving time and money while keeping patients happy and making their work easier: Smith Pharmacy used SureCost to overcome the challenges of the purchasing ecosystem and thrive. 

Our case study takes a deeper dive into the difference smarter purchasing made for Smith Pharmacy. Learn how to drive savings for your pharmacy and your patients while ensuring compliance and streamlining workflows. Download the case study now

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