Justin Coby in pharmacy

The Future of Independent Pharmacy: Bleak or Bright?

October 28, 2021

by Erin Ballentine

What is the future for independent pharmacy? In the fast-paced environment of our healthcare culture, it can be difficult to compete with retail pharmacy chains that are masterful at filling high quantities of prescriptions every day. But what is lost in such a fast-paced environment? Can this be leveraged to promote the services that an independent pharmacy can provide? What other opportunities exist that independent pharmacies are not taking advantage of? And how has COVID-19 created disruptive change that can be leveraged at your local independent pharmacy?

Leadership and Vision

Dr. Justin Coby, a 2007 graduate from Ohio Northern University, began his pharmacy career as a retail pharmacist for a corporate chain. Although he was successful in this field, Coby’s career goals changed after going on a missions trip and seeing the opportunities to serve others through the capacity of a pharmacist. Coby started volunteering at a local free clinic and, in 2012, was named executive director of the Health Partners Free Clinic in Troy, Ohio. Today, he occupies the role of director of Cedar Care Village Pharmacy, an independent pharmacy supported by Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio.

While strong servant leadership is essential to motivate a team of individuals, an independent pharmacy cannot be successful without a clear vision for their future.
In order for independent pharmacies to be successful, effective leadership and a strong vision for a local pharmacy’s role in healthcare is imperative. When asked about his philosophy of leadership at Cedar Care, Coby stated, “I’m just a member of the team. [As a leader,] your job is to make sure everyone in the room is comfortable.” While strong servant leadership is essential to motivate a team of individuals, an independent pharmacy cannot be successful without a clear vision for their future. To create vision, pharmacists must get to know their communities and the current opportunities to bridge healthcare gaps in the community setting.

Future Opportunities for Independent Pharmacies

Only nine days on to the job, Coby already has a strong sense of vision for Cedar Care Village Pharmacy. There are ample opportunities to implement ambulatory care into the role of the local community pharmacy. Creating a “one stop shop” to provide point-of-care testing, vaccinations, and other services outside of the typical dispensing operations is one way in which independent pharmacies can continue to expand the opportunities for pharmacists and improve the health of the local community. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the ways in which pharmacists are utilized in the healthcare system and independent pharmacies have a unique position to capitalize on the opportunities that are now available and expected for pharmacists.

To hear more about the positive future for independent pharmacies, listen to our latest episode of DISRxUPT, a podcast of the Cedarville University Center for Pharmacy Innovation. In this episode, Dr. Justin Coby describes specific ways in which these businesses can utilize various resources to their advantage and how the future for independent pharmacies is littered with opportunities for positive growth.

Erin Ballentine is a student pharmacist at the Cedarville University School of Pharmacy. She completed her B.S. in pharmaceutical sciences at Cedarville University, and is currently completing her M.B.A. concentrated in healthcare administration through Cedarville as well. Her current career goals are to pursue a health systems pharmacy administration leadership residency program and hold a managerial role within a hospital pharmacy setting.

The Cedarville University School of Pharmacy is equipping its Doctor of Pharmacy students to be on the leading edge of healthcare innovation. Cedarville’s Pharm.D. students are fully prepared to begin a rewarding career as a pharmacist and to use their calling to make a difference for Christ as they serve with excellence and compassion.

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