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Finding Pharmacy Solutions through Entrepreneurship

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There are so many different types of careers within the field of pharmacy—from research and drug development to pharmacy informatics! To highlight some of the more unique career settings in the industry, we’re introducing a new page on our website—Novel Pharmacy Practice Settings—where you can explore these unique career pathways.

In addition to learning more about unique pathways on our new webpage, we’ll also be featuring pharmacists who work in these unique settings on our blog. Today, we’re excited to spotlight Franklin Roye.

Franklin Roye, PharmD, is President of IndyCare, a retail health and wellness center based in North Carolina that provides technology-enhanced, collaborative care on-demand at your local independent community pharmacy. 

Please describe your practice setting. What makes your career path unique?   

I work at IndyCare and am one of the company’s co-founders. It’s a community pharmacy health hub practice setting. We have an independent community pharmacy and an embedded medical clinic where our pharmacists and medical providers collaborate to deliver simplified high-quality patient care. The collaborative aspect of this makes it unique.

There are certainly retail pharmacies with clinics inside of them; think CVS Minute Clinic, Walgreens, and Kroger. We created this collaborative care model of community pharmacy where our pharmacists can turn those frequent encounters into engagements where they provide patient care and get financially compensated.

What led you to this career path? What steps did you take?  

It wasn’t a preconceived plan that brought me here. I worked most of my career in the biopharmaceutical industry in various commercial roles, such as sales, marketing account management, strategic consulting, and business development.

I started with GlaxoSmithKline in North Carolina and went with them to New York City after that. Next, I took an international opportunity with a market access consulting firm called the NUCLEUS Group. That took me to Singapore, where I led their business development team for the Asia Pacific region, covering an area from China to Australia and everything in between. Eventually, I shifted to a similar role in Asia with PPD, a global contract research organization. Three years ago, I returned to the US to start IndyCare with a pharmacy school friend of mine, Greg Vassie. So this is my first foray into frontline healthcare.

What does a typical workday look like for you?  

It’s pretty intense. I start my day at five o’clock in the morning, so I can get up, get a coffee, get a little exercise in and have some time to think through my plans before my kids get up. Then, I’m onsite at the clinic and pharmacy about three days a week, working on operations that include managing our employees, providing training, rolling out new services, and doing some overall problem-solving. I also have a few virtual meetings daily with different partners and vendors. These cover everything from marketing, technology platforms, insurance companies, and collaborators. We’re constantly seeking new information because the consumer healthcare industry is fast-paced and continually evolving. On the other days of the week that I’m not at the clinic, I’m working more on medium-to-long-term growth initiatives for the company—looking at new services we want to implement, evaluating different business partners, and business development.

Describe the most exciting or rewarding aspect of your role?  

Right now, it’s definitely the feedback that we get from patients. The feedback we’ve gotten from patients has blown away even our high expectations, and that’s when you really feel like you’re making an impact.

Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.

The US healthcare system is challenging to disrupt. You can have a straightforward and common-sense approach to providing what patients, pharmacists, and medical providers want. Still, a complex maze of legal, regulatory, financial, and insurance requirements may be a barrier to your plan. You have to work incredibly hard to figure out how to navigate this complex matrix of stakeholders and still deliver on your plan, and that’s a constant challenge.

How can someone learn more about this unique practice setting and the career opportunities it presents for pharmacists? 

I believe it’s very important to study the healthcare business and trends in healthcare consumerism. In pharmacy school, you devote most of your learning to our profession’s science and clinical aspects, which is a critical foundation. However, once you start working, things shift dramatically, and the clinical side is often a much smaller part of what you do every day. A large part of what you do is navigating non-clinical business information and solving real-world business problems, so learning about the business of healthcare and healthcare consumerism will provide a sound knowledge base to work in a setting like ours.

What advice would you give to a current student pharmacist who is interested in pursuing a similar type of practice role in the future?  

Take advantage of every opportunity, both within and outside pharmacy school to supplement your clinical education. When I was at the School of Pharmacy, I took electives at the business school, for example. Also, learn about big data and develop a baseline data fluency level. Looking at, understanding, and acting upon data will be a significant part of your professional life. Lastly, get as much diverse experience as you can. You’ll get plenty of clinical training through the School and your rotations, so it’s always helpful to mix that with other types of business experience.

What advice would you give to a high school student?

Pharmacy is a very valuable education and training. The medical and pharmaceutical knowledge you gain from a pharmacy program can serve you well in many different career paths, so keep an open mind about what a pharmacist career means. Look into trends in the profession because pharmacy is changing very rapidly, and by the time you get out of pharmacy school, it may not be what you think it is now. There are trends in our industry with automation and technology that will lead to a contraction of traditional dispensing pharmacy roles, which is what many people outside of the profession think of first. However, for every loss, there are also gains in areas of healthcare that people may need to realize and where your Pharmacy education will allow you to excel professionally.

Can you share a brief story about a time you had a positive impact on patient population or community in your role?

In our practice setting, we have all the ingredients needed to solve patient problems. We have pharmacists, medical providers, electronic health record systems, contracts with insurance companies, and more. When you have all these resources and are small and nimble, it gets very interesting as you can find many ways to help people because you’re not constrained.

Recently, a gentleman contacted us desperately searching for help to get his elderly, disabled, homebound mother with Alzheimer’s tested at her home for COVID. He had already checked with the big health systems around the area and several other medical facilities. No one was willing to do it, primarily because they needed a protocol or policy. He was exasperated, and when he came to us and asked if we could help, our response was, ‘sure, why not?!’ Nothing stops us from doing it; we have everything we need to help this person, so why would we not do it? To me, that is rewarding because it can be so simple to solve challenging problems for people if you’re willing to take the tools you have and use them without the usual constraints that sometimes prevent our healthcare system from reaching the people who need it most.

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