Meet Karryn Lewis, PharmD, RPh, whose goal is to not only providing the best service and care she can as a pharmacist, but to do it through her locally owned and operated pharmacy Whole Health Pharmacy in Hyannis.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and your connection to the Cape?
I grew up in Dedham, Massachusetts and was introduced to Cape Cod in 2007 by my husband when we began dating. He was part of the community and I was able to experience a personal side of the Cape as opposed to viewing it as a tourist. I was still in school full-time in Boston for my Doctorate of Pharmacy degree and fortunate to spend my weekends and summers here, learning more about the Cape and meeting people. On a complete chance of fate, I was assigned a clinical rotation at a small independent pharmacy formerly named The Medicine Store in Hyannis and ultimately came to do several more rotations here including at Stop & Shop pharmacy and Cape Cod Hospital. After graduation, I accepted a full-time position here and my husband and I were thrilled at the opportunity to make this our year-round home.
What made you want to open up your own pharmacy?
I did most of my rotations at larger chain pharmacies and specialized lab facilities and always thought that I wanted to get involved in the research segment of the industry, not the retail end. I understand that this is a cliche statement: but that one rotation at The Medicine Store changed my life. I was exposed to a very personalized and genuine side of the business that I never experienced anywhere else. It became very clear how smaller, family oriented pharmacies are able to compete with the chain stores that have seemingly taken over. My husband and I often talked about my ideas on how to better the overall pharmacy experience and the idea of one day starting my own pharmacy became a vision rather than just a fantasy.
In another twist of fate, The Medicine Store was unexpectedly sold to a chain pharmacy and I soon found myself working for another business. I remember talking to the customers after they were displaced and deciding once and for all that my vision of opening a pharmacy had to become a reality both for my sake and for the community’s sake. It took about 20 months of planning and organizing and I opened the doors to Whole Health Pharmacy [in the old location of The Medicine Store] on December 8th, 2014 with just my mother, father, and husband at my side.
How has the local response been?
The local response has been amazing. I never realized just how much “shopping locally” meant to people and we had former customers waiting for us the morning that we first opened our doors. We started off with a handful of customers and have grown into the thousands solely due to word of mouth and personal referrals. Towards the end of the first year, local health care providers and facilities began to use our services regularly. We operated and continue to operate under the model that service comes first and growth will follow. We’ve been very blessed that our customers and healthcare providers have recognized our unique approach at personalizing this business and have been our best advocates within the community. It has allowed us to give back and we now support a significant number of local charities and non-profits and proudly sponsor whatever events or fundraisers that we are able to. People may not realize it, but shopping locally filters an unbelivably large portion of the money back into the community and we do everything that we can to give back and better the community.
How do you see your role and your (amazing) staff's role in a patient's health and wellness regimen?
Our role in a patient’s health and wellness regimen extends far beyond just filling a prescription. Each member of our team plays an important role in a patient’s medication therapy. Each prescription we fill involves interpreting the prescriber’s order, evaluating the appropriateness of the medication & dose, screening for potential drug interactions & allergies, producing the medication, verifying the accuracy of each step involved, and then making sure that the patient has a full understanding of their medications. In many instances, we deal with an aging population who have caretakers that we extensively work with and counsel both them and the patient about the medication and alleviate any questions or concerns that they may have. These major steps in the process don’t always go as smoothly as you would imagine and often require us to reach out to insurance companies and doctors for order clarification or to help assist in the general medication management.
How is the customer experience different at Whole Health Pharmacy as compared to a chain store pharmacy?
Our pharmacy provides an array of additional services intended to enhance patient therapy and overall experience which ultimately leads to better medication compliance and better results for the patient. Some of our focuses include vaccine administration, medication therapy management, medication reconciliation, Medicare Part D plan evaluations, local delivery, and medication adherence packaging. The medication adherence packaging is something unique that very few pharmacies (and no chain pharmacies) on Cape Cod offer. It’s intended to assist those that need a more personalized approach to helping identify day, dosage, and time to take their medications. It’s quite an impressive system and approach to helping a particular patient demographic. We also collaborate closely with local prescribers and organizations in an effort to tie together all aspects of patient care, while continuing to offer our own professional expertise and personalized service for the best possible customer experience.
The customer experience at Whole Health Pharmacy is vastly different to what one would expect from a chain pharmacy. We strive in providing each customer with an experience tailored to their specific needs. We tend to develop relationships with our customers on a personal level, knowing not only their names, but their back stories and families as well. We often spot our regular customers before they walk through the door and already have everything waiting at the register by the time they reach the counter. We understand that people still want fast service, but that doesn’t mean that we have to sacrifice our personal approach in doing so.
At the end of the day, we look at each customer and care for them as if they were members of our own family. The experience that we’ve created goes above and beyond what any other pharmacy offers and Whole Health Pharmacy wouldn’t be where it is today if every member of the team didn’t share in the same approach and focus on quality care. If you’re ever in the store, don’t be surprised to here someone on staff yell out “teamwork makes the dream work” while we’re helping customers!
What do you see in Whole Health Pharmacy’s future?
Four years ago I had a vision for offering a pharmacy experience that challenged the impersonal chain environment and treated each person that walked through the door as a new relationship, not as a customer. I’ve been fortunate that the community has appreciated and responded positively to this approach. We now service retail customers, healthcare providers, and facilities from Eastham to Falmouth and then off-Cape from Plymouth to Wareham. There’s a saying that you can’t be all things to all people, so we’ve continued to stay the course of our original vision and focus on customer service and continuity of care for our patients. Our agenda isn’t to become a factory that fills medications and begins viewing customers as numbers; there are plenty of those out there already and Cape Cod doesn’t need another one. Our goal is to continue to innovate and adapt to the ever changing healthcare and technology environment and keep our primary focus on customer experience. Obviously, we want to continue to grow, but we believe that focusing on our customers and offering the best pharmacy experience on Cape Cod will inevitably lead to new referrals and growth. After being on the Cape for a decade and being in business here for four years, I honestly believe that reputation is the key to any local business’s continued success.