I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was running in a local 5K. I'm late to the running game, having started about seven years ago. For some people running comes naturally, and it shows as they glide effortlessly as if clouds were cushioning their every step. That is not me. My natural inclination is only to run when something big and dangerous is chasing me. My motivation is more masochistic. I took up running as a discipline test for myself. I figured, if I could make myself run even though I would have preferred listening to Yoko Ono's greatest hits, I can will myself to do other things that are hard or that I would rather not do.
Ironically, after making myself go, it's in the last quarter mile or so when I want to quit the most. My head starts to play "Let's Make a Deal" with my legs. Head says, "Just walk the rest of the way, legs. No one will know." Or, "C'mon legs. You do this all the time. It won't hurt to stop and walk the rest of the way. Who will know?" Of course, quitting at the end, when around the corner the goal will be in sight, is the absolute worst time to stop.
From the summer of 2018 to the summer of 2019, 3.3 percent of all the community pharmacies and chain drugstores in the United States closed. Since then, the small chain Fred's has declared bankruptcy and Walgreen's announced it will close 200 under-performing stores. The majority of the closures are chain drugstores, but more than 500 community pharmacies also closed.
There are a lot of reasons a pharmacy may close. Sometimes it's for economic reasons. Pharmacy DIRs are a primary reason for economic strife in pharmacies. Sometimes it's for individual reasons. Life circumstances change — sometimes by choice and sometimes not. Either way, it's a very personal decision and that is often complex and filled with mixed emotions.
While the pharmacy payment model is still broken, there are some signs that the goal of recognition of the value community pharmacists provide is coming into view. Just like enough pressure and heat can turn a piece of carbon into a diamond, the economic pressures on pharmacies are producing new opportunities. As examples, there are groups and programs to help better manage pharmacy cost of goods. There are local groups of pharmacies forming networks and getting paid for the services that payers value in many CPESN® networks. There is the NCPA Annual Convention later this month in San Diego that is focused on changing the pharmacy payment model. And, there is 3.3 percent of the population, approximately 10 million people, looking for a new pharmacy home. Why shouldn't their new home be your pharmacy?
There are better days ahead. For some, those better days aren't yet visible, but they are around the corner. One of the keys is keeping up the pace even when exiting the race is tempting.
P.S. NCPA is conducting a survey recording the views of pharmacy owners to gauge their economic pulse. Please complete the survey before noon ET, Monday, Oct. 14.