In above photo from Left to Right: Germaine Robinson, Owner and PIC; Nikki Phillips, Lead Technician
The following interview took place in late 2020. Germaine Robinson(Center in above photo) is the Owner and Pharmacist in Charge at Germ’s Thrift Clinic in Opelousas, LA. Germaine sat down with Medicine-On-Time’s Director of Pharmacy Programs Tori Pearson to discuss her journey toward a Five-Star Pharmacy and the future of pharmacy. For more information about the programs mentioned in this interview, please click the hyperlinked text, which redirects to the corresponding entities.
Read the full transcript of the interview below the video.
GR: Germaine Robinson
TP: Tori Pearson
TP: Hello and thank you for joining us. My name is Tori Pearson and I am the Director of Pharmacy Programs at Medicine-On-Time. We partner with pharmacies across the nation and what we find is that Pharmacists and Pharmacy Owners are really a close-knit community. They share best practices, and solutions really in order to move each other forward in this very challenging environment we see today.
So, when an owner in the industry does some exceptional work and sees good results from it, why not talk about it? So, that gets me to the purpose of this interview today. I am joined by one of our partner pharmacies, Germaine Robinson and she is Owner and Pharmacist In Charge at Germ’s Thrift Clinic.
Just as all Pharmacy Owners across the nation, Germaine has seen many, many challenges. What we’re here to talk about today is how she has really defeated the odds and brought her business to a Five-Star level pharmacy.
Welcome Germaine, thank you so much for joining me today.
GR: Thanks Tori, it’s great to be here.
TP: Great! To start out, tell me a little bit about yourself: your background, your pharmacy, your community.
GR: Sure, I’m from south Louisiana, where the food is great, culture is fantastic. I grew up in a French-speaking environment, my grandparents only spoke French; my parents actually had to learn to speak English to begin school– so the culture’s amazing. I live with my husband Steven, my son, Jack, my daughter Stevie, and her husband, Aaron, who actually just got back from the Marine Corps, so we want to shout out to him and tell him thank you for his service, it’s great to have him back. My Pharmacy is in a small town called Opelousas, Louisiana. We are mainly Medicaid and Medicare patients. I have a small staff, myself and two full-time technicians. We service probably about 150 a day.
TP: Okay, thank you! Speaking of your community, I know you have faced certain challenges that have made medication adherence hard; or more difficult for both you and for you patients, can you tell me a little bit about that?
GR: Yes, my patients are very low income, so some of them have no rides, no vehicles, so they depend on people to come to us, to doctor’s visits. We offer free delivery for them. So with that being said, some of them can’t even afford their copays. So they have to pick and choose which medications they get. It’s very hard to keep them adherent, but we always find a way to help them out.
TP: That’s great, that’s great. I know there are a lot of other pharmacies in their own communities that are facing very similar challenges. So, being faced with the task of improving performance for your pharmacy, I know it didn’t come overnight. So, tell me a little bit about your journey, what tools you used along the way, what resources have helped you? Tell me a little bit about that.
GR: Sure, I started working at Walgreens, that’s not my first job, but where I began using the tools was with Walgreens, at that point, we started using MTM Outcomes, that platform, so I got familiar with that.
After that when I went into independent pharmacy, I started using the Mirixa Platform. This was when I was with a former Pharmacy Services Administration Organization (PSAO) I was using at the time.
It wasn’t until I switched to Pharmacy First, that’s my PSAO now that I started using the EQuIPP dashboard platform. At that point, I believe that was in 2016, I began a pilot program, actually– with Medicine-On-Time and Pharmacy First, using adherence packaging. That, right there, was awesome.
What I did was I took the outliers I had from EQuIPP that kept recurring month to month, so I said “this is a good opportunity, let’s package their medications.” I probably had about 20 at first, started packaging their medications, that outcome has been fantastic, amazing.
From there, you actually introduced me to Brittany Boyd, from PQS. She enlightened me with a few things on the EQuIPP dashboard that I never even thought of. I had just focused on the outliers until she showed me how to use the “Analyze Performance” tab.
From there, you can actually see which insurance companies you need to focus on and actually run reports to see which patients are on these particular insurances and when I started focusing on that, it was a matter of months. My scores went from a Three-Star to a Five-Star; that quick.
TP: thank you Germaine, you really have had an incredible journey. Tell us a little bit about the turning point, what got you that lift you were looking for? How did you really overcome all the challenges to achieve the success you have today?
GR: Just meeting with Brittany, for one and then including my staff is really the turning point because, at first I was just doing it all myself– spinning my wheels. Just,kept doing the same thing. I finally had to ask for help. So with Pioneer-– which is a great computer system, we were able to run these awesome reports. My lead technician takes over it weekly. She knows what reports to run, finding those insurance companies that affect us, and it’s just become a process now. Ourslow days are Wednesdays, so that’s the day we take to maximize our time and focus on it. And, really and truly, just the three of us full-time, we can handle it. It’s overwhelming at first, but until you get
into the process, you figure out what you have to do, it just falls into place, it really does. It’s not impossible.
TP: That’s really great, especially with the small staff you have, you really have become a well oiled machine. Tell me a little bit about your focus going forward. I know you are working on other initiatives as you continue to change the face of your pharmacy, so tell me a little bit about that as well.
GR: Yeah, it’s really hard to step out of a box as being a Pharmacist for over 30 years, I can tell you that. We’re all used to just filling prescriptions, but you’ve got to get into clinical side of it. First of all, I joined CPESN, I think that was in 2018, and from there I was actually chosen to join “Flip the Pharmacy”. That was in 2019. From there, I was able to get a private payer, I do opioid assessments which is where we need to be focusing; this is a very important thing, and I’m very proud to be a part of that. So I’ve been doing that for a few months now, with CPESN. Also, I was able to take a course with the Avant Institute, if people have not heard of Avant Institute, you need to look it up. Amina Abubakar is a wonderful person. Her staff is phenomenal. I took a class called the ALIE class, and learning about chronic care management; annual wellness visits.
With that being said, chronic care management– I hope I can get involved with local physicians to get their scores improved because everything is based on metrics now. I was able to increase my scores and become a Five-Star Pharmacy, I hope to be able to collaborate with physicians and get them going to where they need to be, so their reimbursements can pick up, and help to get to that point.
TP: That’s really exciting to move toward that collaboration point now. One final question: there are other Pharmacists and Pharmacy Owners who are in the same position you were a few years ago. Is there any advice you can give them?
GR: Learn how to manage your time, I know there’s so many Pharmacists that have a greater staff than I do, you just have to find the right person, put them in the right place and from there, focus on using your computer system, because the reports are the main thing. Find what reports you need to find to figure out what you need to do.
I’m always available, by the way. You can call me at 337-948-4441 at Germ’s Thrift Clinic Pharmacy and I would love to talk you through it. Maybe I’m not familiar with your computer system, but I can tell you what you need to look for.
TP: That’s wonderful that you’re willing to provide that information so your peers can reach out to you, hopefully you won’t get bombarded with a bunch of phone calls, but I’m sure they’ll appreciate it. Well, that really concludes the interview today, anything we haven’t talked about you’d like to tell us about?
GR: Just step out of the box, don’t be afraid. Do not be afraid to ask and you know, this is where it’s going, we’re not just filling medicines anymore. You need to become involved. At the end of the day, it’s all about the patient, we want better care for our patients. Some of them need help. I know sometimes, I forget to take my medications, I’m guilty, so guess what? Germaine packages her medicine so she can be on time. We all need help, no one’s perfect, and we just need to remind our patients that it’s okay to mess up, but we’re here for them, and let’s try to get improvement for them.
TP: Absolutely. Thank you so much for your time today, Germaine. It really has been a pleasure talking to you today, and also being a small part of your journey, we really appreciate it.
GR: I appreciate everything you guys have done for me.
TP: Absolutely, thank you so much.
GR: Thank you!
Germaine was also recently a guest on PQS’ Quality Corner Podcast, listen to Germaine discuss Improving Quality in Community Pharmacy
For more information on the program Germaine participated in, information on Medicine-On-Time, or general inquiries, please contact Tori Pearson, Director or Pharmacy Programs via email at firstname.lastname@example.org