By BECKY GILLETTE
When Transcript Pharmacy, Inc., opened in January 2003 in Jackson, it initially was hoping for just some regional success in Mississippi and neighboring states, because there is a lot of competition with specialty pharmacies.
But the company now is licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of country’s 5,000 fastest growing private companies.
“We were fortunate to have that recognition five years in a row,” said Clifton Osbon, R.Ph., president of Transcript Pharmacy. “The only other company in Mississippi we are familiar with that has the same distinction would be (remote technical support firm) Bomgar.”
The business provides prescriptions for patients with long-term medical needs such as those with solid organ transplants, Hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, psoriasis, certain cancers and other conditions.
Osbon said by focusing their services on specific patient populations, the staff can provide the highest level of service and expertise possible.
“We believe we offer a high tech/high touch model,” Osbon said. “It is the right fit in this space where patients need extra care, but we also use technology to deliver that. We utilize all of our technology on the back end so it never interferes in the relationships with our patients.”
Every call gets answered live. They don’t use tools like an automated attendant or phone trees.
“Patients have direct access to our staff promptly,” Osbon said. “We all know what it is like to call a company, be on hold for 15 minutes and then be transferred around.”
Patients are offered the opportunity to communicate with Transcript Pharmacy on email, but less than five percent do that. Most want to call in and complete the transaction. Patients call to order refills, update insurance information and schedule deliveries.
“On average, it takes only one minute and 15 seconds for a call to be completed,” Osbon said. “We don’t waste their time. We offer friendly, personal service. Many of our patients develop a working relationship with one employee in particular, and we encourage that. In addition to patients, nurses and other healthcare professionals we interact with tell us they love the personal service that is delivered.”
They have found that nurses like fax communications.
“We use faxes as a primary way of communication with nurses because they can receive that and work with it at their convenience rather than taking a telephone call or some other technology that is more an interruption of their work flow.”
The company that employs 12 people also helps make sure that patients get their new prescriptions before the old one runs out.
“We place live outbound calls to patients every month if they haven’t contacted us three days before the prescription is due for refill,” Osbon said. “We also check in with them to ask if the medicine is working for them or causing any problems. If there are any problems, the pharmacist communicates with the patient’s physician.”
Osbon said the company has been fortunate to be able to hire superior employees.
“We have been able to hire great qualified people here,” Osbon said. “And because we are dependent on shipping to patients in many states, it helps to be in an area with a favorable climate. In the North, there might be challenges with snowstorms in the winter. We don’t have that here. We also have a reasonable regulatory environment here that has been helpful to us. The Mississippi Board of Pharmacy’s responsibility is to protect citizens by regulating pharmacists and pharmacies. Their regulations are fair and protect the citizens, but are not overbearing. We find they have a strong understanding of the business of pharmacy.”
While there are big questions right now about the future of the Affordable Care Act, Osbon said their biggest challenge is competition.
“We have a lot of competitors,” he said. “There is significant vertically integrated competition. Everyone from payers to health systems have specialty pharmacies. The thing sets us apart is we are able to work with the provider staff and help them manage patient care without interfering with their work flow.”
Transcript Pharmacy had revenues of $105 million in 2015, but it has declined since then. Osbon said that was expected because 2015 was a banner year due to treatments for Hepatitis C, which cost $30,000 a month and need to be taken for three months.
“That really drove our 2015 sales,” Osbon said. “Many patients didn’t have to be retreated. We and our competitors showed a decrease in Hepatitis C prescriptions in the past two years because of that.”
Osbon said they rarely advertise, and instead rely on regional sales managers who call on nurses and other clinic staff members in specialty clinics throughout multiple states.
Osbon said another important factor in growing the company has been measuring metrics to evaluate success. Each quarter they send out surveys that ask patients to evaluate Transcript Pharmacy on eight different service components on a scale from one to five, with five being the best.
“We just got back our results from the second quarter survey where we averaged 4.94 for all patients,” he said. “They are telling us they are really happy with our services. On average speed to answer a call, call abandonment rates, the average time to dispense a prescription order, and clinic satisfaction surveys, we got 5 out of 5.”
The company prides itself on helping patients have a high compliance rate for taking their medicine. He said most pharmacies are satisfied if patients take 85 percent of their prescribed medicine.
“We are seeing numbers like 92 to 94 percent,” he said. “Our staff truly cares about the end result for the patient and we strive for better outcomes.”