Are You Really a Pharmacy Buyer?
Are You Really a Pharmacy Buyer?
By Michael J.W. Thomas, CPhT
Pharmacy Buyer Day is set for Friday, October 25th this year. The National Pharmacy Purchasing Association is preparing its usual spread of information and multimedia so that Pharmacy Buyers across the country can celebrate their special day. See the NPPA website’s Buyer Day page, for a link to sign our petition if you have not already done so. We currently have 732 signatures, which is very close to our goal of 750 signatures we set a few years ago, in order to attempt to take it higher than just our local Mayors, for more national recognition. Spread the word and share the link to our petition page, with your friends and family, on Facebook and via email.
However, as we pat ourselves on the back, maybe get a lunch or some other kind of special treatment, we should sit back for a moment and ask ourselves: “Am I a real Pharmacy Buyer?” This question might confuse some Buyers. Others may feel insulted. “Of course I’m a Pharmacy Buyer! I order all the medication and supplies for my pharmacy. I do exactly what is expected of me.”
However, doing “exactly what is expected” usually falls into a very narrow mindset. The Director, the Pharmacist may have a clear idea what “is expected of you,” but that only falls in the mindset of what they used to do when they were “stuck” with the Purchasing. As a Pharmacy Purchasing Professional, you should have specialized skills that transcend the skill sets of both the Pharmacist and the Pharmacy Technician, such as the following.
1) You are expected to order drugs.
However, as a Pharmacy Purchasing Professional, you should have the skills to analyze order patterns, come to conclusions, and report your recommendations to your Administration. Your supervisors may not even be aware you possess this skill; maybe it is time they learn.
2) You are expected to keep records.
However, as a Pharmacy Purchasing Professional, you should have the skills to interpret those mundane reports, discover methods to better convey these reports, to better reflect a more accurate picture of the pharmacy inventory. Your supervisors may not even be aware you possess this skill; maybe it is time they learn.
3) You are expected to keep abreast of your wholesalers and your GPO.
However, as a Pharmacy Purchasing Professional, you should be in direct communication with your sales representatives, making sure that they keep you informed, not only what they want to tell you, but also what you need to know. Sales vendors have a wealth of knowledge that needs to be gleaned at every opportunity. They are the first ones to know patterns in the field; what may be going short, what is currently undergoing a recall, what other facilities are doing to cope with their issues. In your closed-up offices in the back of the pharmacy, or holed up in some windowless storeroom, drug sales representatives are your window to what is going on outside your universe. Your supervisors may not even be aware you need this resource; maybe it is time they learn.
4) You are expected to keep track of drugs that come and go from your pharmacy.
This is the most important fact that needs to be shared, not only with yourself and your staff, but also to fellow Buyers who are not aware of the greatest single resource available to the Pharmacy Purchasing Professional in this country- NPPA. NPPA is the only organization specifically created to cater to the educational needs of Pharmacy Purchasing Professionals. The association provides a wealth of important, vital, and timely information through its official publication, Pharmacy Purchasing Outlook. Ten times a year, it provides more information on what you need as a Pharmacy Purchasing Professional than any other publication in the country, if not the world. In addition, if ten times a year is not enough, http://220.127.116.11/~pharmacy is your 24/7 outlet for Pharmacy Buyer information. Do yourself, do your profession a favor, and take this publication to a Buyer who is not a member. Have them look through and discover the information they need every single day, which is likely information they are not getting from any other source. Then introduce them to your website, PharmacyPurchasing.com. Have them look through the Pharmacy Buyers Forum, the longest-continually-running communication site in the country, where any Buyer, NPPA member or not, can converse with anyone on the Board, asking questions, sharing information, warning of shortages, anything within the realm of Pharmacy Purchasing is discussed, and nothing is off the table. Then, give them a little tease of what’s on your Member Only Resources page. It not only has timely, up-to-the-second news on the drugs and supplies you purchase, but, shows you, as a member, all the up-to-the second drug alerts available only to you as a member of NPPA. Scroll down a little, and show them the professional improvement categories for keeping track of your education credits, and many other features that are for your betterment as a Pharmacy Purchasing Professional. Your peers may not even be aware of this resource; maybe it is time they learn.
“Exactly what is expected of me?” We all know that a Pharmacy Buyer is more than the “want book,” and more than a Pyxis® report. A real Pharmacy Purchasing Professional is a vital member of the Healthcare Team, whose input and insight is a needed resource for the health of their patient population, as well as the health of their facilities’ financial solvency.
Pharmacy Buyer Day is set for Friday, October 25th this year. Pharmacy Buyers across the country should be requesting proclamations from their governments to be proudly displayed in their facilities. If you do not know how to do this, consult the “Pharmacy Buyer Day – Info & Petition” page on our website. Again, if you have not done so, follow the link on that page and sign our petition to make Pharmacy Buyer Day a national Day of Recognition. We are so close to our goal of 750 signatures, that we should be prepared to take the next step. Also, consult the page for tips on celebrating your day. Posters will be available for download as the date draws closer.
However, most important, let your Administration know of your worth. Our membership controls billions of dollars in purchasing power, and has saved their facilities tens of millions of dollars. With that much responsibility and that much professional success in their duties, doing “exactly what is expected of me,” falls tragically short of realizing the full potential for you as a Pharmacy Purchasing Professional. This is your profession, your day.
The powers-that-be may not even be aware of your value as a resource; maybe it is time they learn! Record and promote your accomplishments and savings to your department and facility administration, and see how differently you get treated!