Clinic Dispensing

Choosing a Prepackaged Medication Supplier – Part II

You are looking to change vendors or just starting to explore potential suppliers for your clinic dispensing project.  You likely started with a search on Google (thank you for checking-in with us!) and then proceeded to look at a few websites.  Many of them look similar: they offer clinic dispensing, pharmaceutical repackaging, in-office dispensing, physician dispensing, unit-of-use pharmaceuticals etc.  Most will describe the huge dollars you can make by dispensing to your patients.  Some offer dispensing software, online adjudication, broad formularies or even "great service".  How do you discern the differences?

I've put together several posts pointing out some factors to consider: licensure, services, broker versus distributor etc.  In this post, I want to talk about more subtle factors.

  • Responsiveness – how quickly does the vendor respond when you contact them?  Quick response is an indication of attentiveness.  Few vendors will be more responsive after you start working with them than they were during the courting process.  This is a great indicator of the level of service you can expect after you begin a relationship.
  • Questions they ask – what does the vendor ask you about your business or objectives?  In most sales transactions, vendors are trying to convince you to buy.  You may be better served by the company that "seeks first to understand, then to be understood" (on of my favorite Stephen Covey expressions).  They may be able to sell drugs, but do they know how to help you decide or make it easy for you to buy?  This applies to pretty much anything you buy.  Jeffrey Gitomer loves to say that people hate to be sold, but they love to buy – think about this as it relates to the relationship you want with your supplier.
  • How does it feel? – you've started a dialog with several prospective suppliers, the basic questions have been asked and you are trying to decide between different options.  What does your gut tell you?  We often justify decisions based on the rational: price points, services, website, shipping etc.  However, your gut is always right there informing your decision – are you listening to it or overruling it with justifications?  Not to say that our gut is always right but every interaction with another person has a certain feel and our internal judgment machine is making a call each time.  Are interactions with one vendor easier than with another?  Does one seem to care more?  I'm not talking about words, I'm referring to sincerity; are they really trying to help you? This is very soft but like "bedside manner", it is an intangible that may ultimately be more important than most of your "hard" decision factors.
  • Do they make it easy to buy? – Are there endless hoops, call-backs, questions and posturing?  Or is the process straightforward, quick and easy?  Implementing in-office medication dispensing is not rocket science.  Your supplier should more as quickly or as slowly as you want.  When you are ready to buy, it should be very easy to set up your account and place your order.  If you have questions, your supplier should be quick with helpful answers.  This may seem so incredibly obvious but I challenge you to think about it when you're evaluating your options.  Believe it or not, there are organizations out there that seem almost designed to make it painful to work with them (think banking and…, uh-oh, healthcare!).  Life is tough enough, buying should be very, very easy.

I hope these thoughts are helpful. Best wishes for finding the right partner!

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