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PBA Health’s operating and marketing efficiency leads to overall growth

PBA Health (DBA TrueCare Pharmacies)
CEO: Nick Smock
Corp. Offices: Kansas City, Mo.
Number of Members: 1,800
Web page: www.pbahealth.com

Since 2006 PBA Health has grown from slightly more than 1,000 members to 1,800, making it the fastest-growing major pharmacy group, according to Nick Smock, CEO of the Kansas City, Mo.-based cooperative. One of the things that made this growth possible is the organization’s realization that, while buying “right” will always be a key element of success for any pharmacy, two other areas are just as important: operational excellence and effective marketing.

On the buy side, PBA Health operates a distribution center and is a voting member of HDMA, the trade organization owned by the nation’s full-line wholesalers. The PBA Health warehouse ships pharmaceuticals, OTC, seasonal and opportunity buys. PBA Health also contracts with three wholesalers, allowing its members to choose the wholesaler they prefer. The group’s annual trade show — held this year in Overland Park, Kan., from Aug. 14 to 16 — provides members with the ability to meet with more than 40 companies that provide special prices, discounts and rebates.

On the operations side, PBA Health works closely with two pharmacy management system companies, two IVR companies, a credit card processing firm and a robotics vendor. While members can use any technology vendor they choose, the group can negotiate better pricing and work closely with vendors on software features that drive proprietary management and marking programs, by working with a small number of companies, according to Smock.

Among the key programs PBA Health offers are TriNet, a third party network; Ensure Pay, an electronic claims central pay and reconciliation service; an in-house PBM; and ScriptCard, a cash card program that helps members market themselves to the uninsured or underinsured. ScriptCard+ supports a flat-fee generic program.

PBA Health is aggressive in third-party reimbursement, government relations and regulatory affairs. Dale Smith, a well-known fixture in several state capitals, heads up these initiatives at PBA Health. The group expends considerable effort to keep abreast of issues at the state and federal level, and shares this information in a compelling and organized manner with its members, Smock said. It also calls upon members to contact elected and appointed government officials in an effort to effect change that will best serve independent pharmacies and the patients they serve.

Many of the group’s 80 employees are involved in operating the warehouse and staffing a customer call center. PBA Health also has a team of advertising and marketing people that do market research for stores, design logos and even develop customized ad materials. The organization supports DBA True Care Pharmacies, a program that provides overall support for members and provides interior and exterior signage, POP materials and even has an impressive private-label program.

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