In my last post, I discussed four key aspects of a complete dispensing solution:

  • Products
  • Pricing
  • Software
  • Service

shutterstock_71583787_w640In this post, I want to dig-in a bit on the service aspect and discuss  more fully what “dispensing solution” should mean for a dispensing clinic.    First of all, I want to give some perspective on this market.  Repackaged pharmaceuticals for in office dispensing is a specialty niche within the overall pharmaceutical market.  Relatively speaking, it is a tiny fraction of the broader space.  There are actually not a large number of suppliers in this niche – very large wholesalers won’t touch it for two reasons: 1) overall revenue opportunity and 2) service demands or complexity.  In other words, it is not an easy niche to serve.  This market is complex to serve because of its requirements for custom packaging of medications, variability in ordering patterns, software and regulatory support, generally small orders on a per-clinic basis and its retail support requirements.   It is  a pretty tough business and doesn’t lend itself nicely to the mass market approach of the large national wholesalers.

Within this market, there is dramatic variability in how the suppliers serve their clinic customers.  At the very core, you want certain drugs at a certain price at a certain time.  But the reality is that there is so much more to it.  What is world-class service for the in-office dispensing market?

  • 24 hour/7 day shopping and ordering from anywhere.
  • Orders shipped same or next day.
  • Clean, crisp packaging – it looks good and helps to keep your dispensary organized.
  • Easy access to service: telephone, email, web.
  • A portal for self service: initiate trouble tickets, check order status, check billing/payment status.
  • Seamless data flow from ordering, to fulfillment, to receiving to dispensing.  It takes a lot of technology to make this happen but it is a beautiful thing when it is working properly.
  • Problem resolution within minutes or hours – not days.
  • Clinical support when you need it.
  • Account management that seeks to understand your business, your patients and your special requirements.  Then, an organization that responds to your unique needs.
  • Regulatory support – no, we shouldn’t be viewed as legal counsel.  However, technology support to facilitate reporting is an absolute must.  Helping you respond to changing regulations via technology or how we provide pharmaceuticals is a must as well.
  • Order accuracy – does it need to be said?  Apparently, because we have many clinics coming to us because their current supplier is shipping the wrong items.  Mistakes will sometimes happen but patterns will emerge over time.
  • Quality – this ties into the item above.  It is a reflection of the attitude of the organization.  How do they approach quality? It should show in their products, packaging, systems and in your interactions with their employees.
  • Communication – disruptions, back orders, shortages, price changes…yes, these things happen.  Their impact can be mitigated with proactive communication.

Ultimately, your supplier should be making it easy for you to do business with them while providing products and a dispensing solution that enhances your relationship with your patients.  Though this list is by no means comprehensive, it does give a sense of depth and breadth of opportunities available to you as a customer of re-packagers and distributors within the physician dispensing marketplace.

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