If you are looking to illustrate the phrase “sparsely populated,” Montana fits the bill. At more than 147,000 square miles, it is the fourth-largest state by area in the United States, but 44th in population with 998,000. The state has 6.8 residents per square mile, compared with 1,189 for New Jersey, the most densely populated state.
In places such as Montana, telepharmacies serve an important health care function, says Justin VanCampen, who with wife Keri own four pharmacies in the state (all under the Remedies business name).
“For a lot of people it’s a 120-mile Remedies Pharmacies Justin & Keri VanCampen round trip to the nearest pharmacy,” says Justin, a 1999 University of Montana pharmacy graduate. “The nearest specialist might be 100 miles away one way. Having a pharmacy presence in the community allows them to get their antibiotics or other medications right away.”
The telepharmacies are staffed by technicians. When patients enter they are directed to a private consulting area with a two-way video monitor and phone link. Justin says he can ask patients about any health issues or if they have any questions about their medications.
Keri manages the business side of the pharmacies. (“I kind of keep the gears running.”) She says each of the telepharmacies have a variety of front-end offerings, targeted toward the local area.
Three of the Remedies businesses owned by the VanCampens are telepharmacies. They are in the process of opening a fourth location which will be a traditional retail entity in Lakeside, in eastern Montana. The other three are spread out throughout the state in Chester, Harlowton, and Three Forks.
The VanCampens bought their first pharmacy in 2008, through Live Oak Bank, a North-Carolina-based business specializing in pharmacies. Keri went online, provided some general information, and within hours was contacted by Ed Webman, RPh, senior loan officer and a former pharmacy
owner. According to VanCampen, Webman said, “It sounds like a great deal.”
Having been brushed off by so many other banks, it seemed too good to be true. She replied, “Okay, but what’s the catch? When is the other shoe going to drop? I’m ready for it so just hit me now.”
Fortunately for the VanCampens there was no catch. They were able to get their loan and now concentrate on serving their communities. They say they are fortunate to have dependable people helping run their far-flung pharmacies.
“I think that’s the benefit of the nature of our small business mindset—we have trained staff that we have employed for a while and they are great about helping us operate our business remotely,” Justin says. “That’s one of the benefits of small towns; we can employ small town people
who know how it works and provide good customer service.”
To download a copy of this article, click here: Remedies Pharmacies, excerpt from 2012 NCPA Digest