Don E. Black, R.Ph.
MTM Consultant Pharmacist
Directly out of pharmacy school in 1965, I began my career in pharmacy in a small Rome-based pharmacy chain, progressing in responsibilities from intern to store manager. Six years later, I left Rome for a short time to work with Merck as a pharmaceutical representative in Tennessee. After returning to Rome, I opened my own North Heights Pharmacy in 1973. In 1977, emerging trends in pharmacy led me to transform North Heights into a highly successful apothecary-style "Medicine Shoppe"™ franchise. As my Medicine Shoppe™ grew in its new and more centralized location, I added an innovative service called “Medicine-On-Time"™. With the welfare of our diverse client base ever in mind, I found that with Medicine on Time™ we could more safely and efficiently serve the prescription needs of individuals living alone or in assisted living facilities by dispensing those prescriptions in multiple dose packaging.
After selling the Medicine Shoppe and Medicine-On-Time businesses in 1997, I developed an innovative stand-alone practice in pharmacy compounding under the name RxLabs. This new concept focused on working with physicians to individualize medications and medication therapy for their patients. This eventually proved to be ahead its time as a stand-alone business, but after closing the actual physical facility, I maintained the name RxLabs and continued to offer consultative services in natural and alternative nutraceuticals and OTC products.
After a time, I decided to return again to full-time employment in retail pharmacy for the Eckerd Corporation where, over a period of 7 years, I held both manager and assistant manager of pharmacy positions. In 2005, I was offered a position by Kaiser Permanente, a well-known Health Maintenance Organization. I gained new perspectives at Kaiser where I served as the pharmacy manager in a highly clinical environment. In this capacity, I worked closely with the (doctor-nurse-patient-pharmacist) healthcare team to improve the medication therapy outcomes of patients through team collaboration and individual patient counseling.
With this varied background in pharmacy and motivated by the emerging healthcare industry’s focus on medication therapy management, I knew it was time to put it all together. As a result, I have resurrected "Rx Labs" as an entity with a clinical approach to managing and improving patients’ healthcare through professional analysis and monitoring of individual prescription and OTC medication regimens."RxLabs, Inc." is dedicated to addressing a new and vital dynamic in our constantly evolving health care system by serving the ever increasing needs of patients for healthy and economical medication outcomes through Medication Therapy Management (MTM).
RxEconsult: You have built and sold pharmacy businesses. How does your MTM business compare to your previous ventures?
Don: My MTM business really cannot be compared to the other businesses that I started from scratch and sold. This is a totally different animal. My other businesses were primarily retail, bricks and mortar type companies, whereas my MTM practice is purely service—no products being sold and I am working out of a home office environment. Sure, in marketing this business model there is a selling component—selling a service that is not well-known. The public knows more about the retail model.
RxEconsult: What techniques are you using for finding clients and marketing your business? What is your MTM philosophy?
Don: Now that is a great question. First of all, you must establish a need. That need initially came from retail pharmacies that don’t have time to perform this function. I develop a relationship then I sell my service to them pointing out that this is my specialty. I call on physicians and other providers to educate them about MTM and how it can be an added value to their practice/business. I ask them for referrals. Next, I set up a base for some revenue by utilizing Mirixa and Outcomes which provide platforms for MTM and also have an established fee system. Most retail pharmacy owners jump at the chance for this revenue stream. Then I expand into the self-insured employers and develop a plan to provide MTM services for their employees.
My philosophy is fairly simple. I must concentrate 100% on improving the patient’s healthcare outcomes. I ask about their medication experience and then plug their needs, problems, and questions into my service model using the 5 key components of MTM. I am accessible, and I follow up on my commitments. I do not make it so clinical and academic that the patient doesn’t comprehend what I am providing. I speak and follow-up in an easy to understand format, keeping it simple for the patient who becomes a partner in this process.