Innovation and Restoration—What Happened at NCPA's 116th Annual Meeting?


Dear Colleague,

I just returned from the NCPA 116th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition in Austin. The juxtaposition of excitement and exhaustion is stark after a meeting like this one. One of the purposes of NCPA's annual meeting is for community pharmacists to get away from their practice, think with a different part of their brain, and open their eyes to new opportunities to build their business or find a solution.

Here's an email from a first time attendee: "I took advantage of three CE's and made some great business discoveries. It was also great to get confirmations of what I am doing."

If you were unable to attend this year, here are 10 highlights that you missed.

10. Here and Now While Seeing Around the Corner-The theme of my speech was focusing on issues of the "here and now" while constantly looking to "see around the corner" toward the future. The two are interdependent—if we don't work on the present day issues there won't be a future, but if we don't also keep an eye on what's around the corner we won't be prepared when the future becomes the new here and now.

9. Captain Capsule-The Good Neighbor Pharmacy NCPA Pruitt-Schutte Business Plan Competition was again a huge hit. The University of Oklahoma-Tulsa and its plan's mascot, Captain Capsule, won first place. The University of Arkansas and the University of California-San Francisco finished second and third, respectively. However, all 42 pharmacy schools that entered the competition were winners in my eyes.

8. Idea Incubator Hatches-We went out on a limb with the new "Idea Incubator" program based on the ABC television show "Shark Tank." We hoped we would get products that pharmacists wanted to promote to their colleagues and to our panel of "sharks." We hoped people would show up to watch. The room wound up filling all its seats and being SRO—standing room only. We'll have video clips from the convention with highlights from the program posted in the upcoming days.

7. Bakers and Eaters-Guy Kawasaki, the one-time Apple "evangelist," was the First General Session keynote speaker. Kawasaki shared his business experiences using humorous real life examples as the audience roared with approval. One of the analogies he used was that "bakers" are focused on creating more opportunities. The more they "bake" the more opportunities they create. Eaters, on the other hand, are only focused on getting their share. It's better to be a baker.

6. Telling Your Story-Dave Carroll was the keynote speaker for the Second General Session. Carroll is the YouTube sensation behind "United Breaks Guitars." Carroll talked about telling your story. After his speech, my job was to go on stage and introduce the next speaker. I had to wait. Carroll was still on the stage receiving a spontaneous and long standing ovation!

5. Networking for High Performing Pharmacies-Throughout the business programming and in our special post-convention program, there was a special emphasis placed on helping pharmacies think about how they can aggregate and promote their services. All of these programs were big hits. The revolution of community pharmacy started in these programs!

4. Adherence and Star Ratings-CMS' five Medicare Part D quality measures are the buzz in the industry and NCPA's Annual Meeting provided education for pharmacies to make sure that they will be in demand by health plans looking to improve their star ratings. Of the five quality measures, three are about adherence. NCPA's Simplify My Meds® is all about adherence and is free to NCPA members. So far, more than 2,000 pharmacies have signed up. Having a great pharmacy but not having a plan to increase your pharmacy's adherence quality measures is like having a Ferrari but being too cheap to change the oil.

3. George Bailey Eat Your Heart Out-NCPA President Mark Riley was honored throughout the convention for his year of presidential service. Perhaps the biggest honor was establishing a scholarship at the University of Arkansas in his name. To endow it, $25,000 was needed. Within seven days, people that Mark had affected contributed $30,000! A fitting testimony to this humble servant leader. (George Bailey is the main character from the movie "It's a Wonderful Life." It's a holiday season staple on TV.)

2. Unified and Coordinated We Must Stand-All of community pharmacy must be unified and coordinated in its message and actions. This theme was consistent throughout the meeting. There is no time for splinter groups that distract from community pharmacy's mission to grow our businesses and serve our patients. Buying groups. Wholesalers. PSAOs. State associations. Many of these groups held meetings at NCPA's annual meeting. It's heartening to see the strong interest from all corners of pharmacy believing in the importance of a unified and coordinated message. NCPA is committed to being a voice of leadership in this effort.

1. Commerce and Connections-I spoke to several hundred members and asked them what they liked most about the convention and what we could do better. To a person, they all talked about the networking—establishing new business connections, improving current business connections, making new friends, and reconnecting with old friends. There were plenty of opportunities for doing business and building relationships throughout the meeting.

In 2015, the NCPA Annual Convention and Trade Exposition is Oct.10-14 in the Washington, D.C. area. The past week of innovation and restoration has helped make all who attended stronger as we tackle issues in the here and now and provide leadership for the future.


B. Douglas Hoey