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Multi-Dose Packaging Systems and Resources Q&A | Bretton Walberg, Walberg Family Pharmacies

Q: Why did Walberg Family Pharmacies start using medication packaging?

When I graduated from pharmacy school, I knew there had to be a better way to help my patients adhere to their medication regimens. I started by filling my patient’s medications in pill organizers, but many patients required multiple organizers, which caused more problems and confusion. Strip packaging seemed like the best option for an adherence program because it drastically reduces the margin for error while taking medications.

Q: Can you tell us more about Care-Fill Custom Medication Packaging?

Care-Fill is a medication management service that packages medications into dose packs labeled by day, time, and dose. My wife, Stacey, and I co founded Care-Fill ® in 2012 when I bought my first medication packaging robot. Care-Fill isn’t just the packaging of medications, it’s the process of managing those medications to make sure our patients adhere to their medication schedule and stay healthy. We do everything needed to make sure our patients get their medications on time. We call the patient every month to check for changes to medications or dosage, we contact their doctors if they need refills, and we will work with their insurance company if needed. Our medication management service is free, and delivery or shipment is also free. Our Care-Fill service has allowed us to realize efficiencies by synchronizing patient medications. And, fewer prescriptions are left unfilled due to medication mismanagement. Care-Fill promotes increased adherence, so we see more fills per calendar year.

Q: What features/benefits were important to you when looking for the right automation/robotics?

1. ROI: We needed to see significant improvement in staffing ratios- specifically prescriptions per staff hour.

2. As we added more machines, it was crucial that the individual units were able to communicate and work together seamlessly- to act as one cohesive system.

Q: What was the process of implementing the technology into your pharmacy? How did the staff adjust to onboarding?

We started small, with only a couple of staff members working out of our Jamestown Pharmacy location. We began packaging medications for close family and friends to get their feedback. It was a slow process at first. We were constantly refining our procedures to find the best way to do things. Once we began marketing the service to our patients and our community, Care-Fill grew significantly. Since 2012, we have outgrown our space and relocated three times due to the need for additional staff and equipment. We are now preparing for our fourth move this summer. Our new 7,000 square foot facility has a customized floorplan to increase efficiency and manage workflow.

Q: What is your outlook?  

Currently, we are focused on Synchronization and Central Fill. With the new facility’s completion on the horizon, we are also working on expanding Care-Fill into new markets and long-term care. 

Q: Have you seen the use of multi-packaging technology increase your patient’s medication adherence?

Absolutely! By managing and packaging their medications, there is little room for error. Between good to go calls and syncing, Care-Fill ensures our patients don’t go without their medication.

Q: What impact has COVID-19 had on your business?  

It has been a fluid process at our retail pharmacies. We have seen a considerable drop in prescription volume and are constantly creating and modifying our procedures to make sure that our customers feel safe and comfortable receiving their medications. We have implemented new services, such as curbside pickup, and adapted our free delivery service to be contactless.

Adherence packaging, on the other hand, never skipped a beat and is continuing to grow. We had already established the process to ensure proper procurement, packaging, professional care, and delivery, so Care-Fill has been impacted very little throughout the pandemic. 

Q: How do you remain competitive in the industry? 

Our drive and proactive approach to technology give us a competitive edge. We never stop looking for new ways to improve efficiency and workflow. We believe we have the right pharmacy system and the right robotics to acquire new patients. We also need the right staff to retain our current patient numbers. The way we treat our customers is what separates us from the larger pharmacies. Since our reputation is dependent on the decisions and actions of our staff, they are a critical component of our success and ability to compete. What we do (and how we do it) matters. 

Biography | Bretton Walberg, Registered Pharmacist and CEO, Walberg Family Pharmacies

Bretton Walberg is a Registered Pharmacist and owner of eleven retail pharmacies and one long-term care pharmacy throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio. After earning his Bachelor of Science Degree in Pharmacy and Business Management, Bretton and his wife, Stacey, purchased their first pharmacy and have continued to grow their business ever since. In 2014, Walberg Family Pharmacies won the prestigious Pharmacy of the Year Award for the Northeast Region from McKesson Pharmaceuticals, and during the same year, Bretton was selected as a Top Pharmacist Entrepreneur of the Year by an industry publication. 

Walberg Family Pharmacies founded Care-Fill®, a medication management and packaging service, in 2012. Care-Fill® serves thousands of medical at-home patients and the long-term care division (Care-Fill LTC) provides pharmacy services to independent living, personal care youth, and IDD facilities.  

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