Quality MetRx Wins School’s Local NCPA Business Plan Competition

Student pharmacists compete to deliver the best business plan for a new independent community pharmacy.

Quality MetRx Wins School’s Local NCPA Business Plan Competition

By Malissa Carroll
May 7, 2014

StuIn a unanimous decision from judges, third-year student pharmacists Kun Yang, Jane Kim, Simon Bae, Emi Chen, Suhl Choi, and Lei Guo from team Quality MetRx were declared winners of the third local Student Business Plan Competition hosted by the student chapter of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. The competition was held at the School of Pharmacy on April 1, with winners announced at the NCPA student chapter’s annual banquet on April 24.

“I continue to be impressed and amazed by the quality of ideas put forth by our students in the business plan competition,” says Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, FCP, dean and professor of the School of Pharmacy and one of the competition’s judges. “Each business plan presented was well thought out, viable, and presented in a professional manner. Our students should be extremely proud of the effort they put into their plans, many of which I’m sure could make it in the marketplace.”

The four participating teams – Quality MetRx, Austin’s Pharmacy, OnSchedule Pharmacy, and Naptown Pharmacy – began work on their business plans in October 2013. As the local competition’s winning team, Quality MetRx will represent the School in the NCPA’s national Student Business Plan Competition to be held later this year.

“NCPA hosts a wide range of activities to promote independent pharmacy and increase students’ awareness of the advantages associated with pharmacy ownership,” says Rachel Smith, the second-year student pharmacist who organized the competition. “This competition offered students an opportunity to develop a unique business plan for a new independent pharmacy. Teams worked together to develop their business plans under the mentorship of a practicing independent pharmacist, giving them a better understanding of the importance that these businesses hold in the pharmacy profession.”

The business plan presented by Quality MetRx focused on improving the quality of care received by the Medicare population serviced by the Northern Maryland Collaborative Care Accountable Care Organization. The team was mentored by Brian Hose, PharmD ’06, owner of Sharpsburg Pharmacy, who was also inducted into the Dean’s Hall of Fame for Distinguished Community Pharmacists at the banquet.

“We were truly surprised and honored to be named the winners of the business plan competition,” says Yang. “Participating in the competition gave our team an opportunity to experience first-hand the process that practicing pharmacists must go through to develop a feasible business model.”

He adds, “Dr. Hose was very knowledgeable and helpful throughout the process. He openly shared several areas of need within the pharmacy community that he felt we could potentially address. We hope that our presentation inspired other students to tackle the challenges of independent pharmacy ownership with innovative solutions.”

In addition to Eddington, James B. Sanders, MBA, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at the R.H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park; John J. Burns, PharmD, director of pharmacy operations at Foer’s Pharmacy in Riverdale, Md.; and Gary A. Stewart, MS, co-founder of SCG, Inc., served as judges for the competition.

“Each team that participated in the NCPA Student Business Plan Competition did an excellent job of dealing with the commercial challenges associated with establishing a new community pharmacy,” says Sanders. “In particular, there were three areas that struck me the most, including how teams translated their technical knowledge of the pharmacy profession to the specific needs of their selected patient population, their demonstrated entrepreneurship and innovation in dealing with the critical issues of health care reform and the role of the Affordable Care Act, and their commitment to make a difference in the lives of those they serve.”

OnSchedule Pharmacy – which included team members Mena Gaballah, F. Mark Hindman, Elissa Lechtenstein, and Edward Neuberger – made competition history as the first team of first-year student pharmacists to compete in the event. They were named first runners-up for their business plan that focused on ways to curve the number of illegitimate prescriptions for controlled substances dispensed in Baltimore. “We knew that we wanted to tackle an issue of significant importance to pharmacies in Baltimore. The problem of drug diversion is very prevalent across the city, and seemed like a good fit for us,” says Gaballah.

Other teams that presented business plans during the competition included Austin’s Pharmacy, whose members included third-year student pharmacists Sean Kelly, Sarah Luttrell, Temilolu Ogunbodede, Priya Rajendran, and Kevin Uhll, and Naptown Pharmacy, formed by second-year student pharmacists Frederick Chim, Emily Dunn, Michael Goldenhorn, Deekshith Katta, Sharina Nandwani, and Christopher St. Clair. The business plan for Austin’s Pharmacy focused on developing patient-centered relationships and promoting overall health and well-being, while Naptown Pharmacy aimed to provide its community with high quality personalized pharmacy services to optimize drug therapy and promote medication adherence.

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