Ben's Pharmacy

Bens PharmacyBen’s Pharmacy focuses on the total health of its patients by offering value-added services that set it apart from the competition. By Janice Hoppe-Spiers

With the well-being of its patients always at the forefront, Ben’s Pharmacy has delivered a second-to-none in-store experience for nearly 40 years and continues to raise the bar on customer service. “What do our patients want?” President and founder Ben Smith asks. “To be well, have energy, see their grandchildren grow up and to participate in and enjoy life. It’s something I took away from a course I attended and what I want for our patients. That’s going to be the theme in all our stores.”

Smith opened his first pharmacy in 1979 in Pefferlaw, Ontario and has grown the company to 12 locations today throughout central Ontario. Most of its stores are located in small, rural communities and range from 1,200 to 5,500 square feet with Beaverton being its largest and busiest store. Bens Pharmacy Info

Ben’s Pharmacy offers a number of personalized services, including packing medication into blister packs divided by the day of the week. This allows customers to take the right dosage of medication on the right days. “It’s our responsibility to have patients’ medications ready ahead of time so when they come in it’s ready for them,” Smith says. “We only charge one fee for the month and some patients aren’t charged anything depending on their co-pays. If it’s $2 we don’t charge them anything.”

Other services include free blood pressure checks, old medication disposal and free delivery. To extend its customer service even further, Ben’s Pharmacy took to the streets a few years ago with Scrippy, its delivery vehicle that drops off medication anywhere its patients need. “One of my colleagues in South Carolina inspired this and he and I are the only ones who have a Scrippy,” Smith says. “It’s blue and white, our colors, and the fun part is the picture of me on the back.”

Invaluable Service

Ben’s Pharmacy began a drug and vitamin supplementation education program this summer in its Beaverton location. Certain medications, such as a hormone drug to treat cardiovascular disease, can deplete nutrients in the body, Smith explains. “Not many pharmacies are explaining this because they just want to fill the prescription, get the money and move on,” he adds. “That’s not what Ben’s Pharmacy is all about.”

The pharmacy began explaining depletion to its customers and suggesting nutrition supplements to replenish the body. “For example, someone taking an opiate needs folic acid, iron and potassium supplements. For patients with osteoporosis who are taking drugs to reshape their bones, we would also suggest taking extra calcium and magnesium,” Smith says. “This is going to be huge for us. Every one of our pharmacies will have information at their fingertips. The next time the patient comes in, we will follow up with them on the supplements.”

Smith is a member of the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), whose goal is to address the epidemic of chronic diseases. “They don’t deal with drugs, but with supplements and vitamins, and do tests on why people end up with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s,” he adds. “This is something we are going to be focused on and will be ordering different supplements for every category.”

Ben’s Pharmacy is also exploring options to develop a weight management group in response to obesity and the growing number of diabetics in the country. “We are trying to do this but it is more difficult to get people together and we have to do it after store hours,” Smith notes. “There are a lot of people who struggle with obesity and diabetes and we are trying to do something about that.”

Smith is a member of the National Community Pharmacists Association, IFM, PBA Health and the American College of Apothecaries – for which he served as the organization’s first Canadian president. He credits a lot of his ideas and value-added services to these professional associations and its members who have assisted him along the way.

“The American College of Apothecaries were the pioneers back in the early ’90s with certification programs for diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, osteoporosis and compounding,” Smith adds. “Paul Lofholm at the American College of Apothecaries has always been there for me for any problem I’ve had. If he didn’t know the answer right away, he gets back to me. Cal Freedman at the American College of Veterinary Pharmacists has always helped me on the veterinary side. Gabe Trahan at the National Community Pharmacists Association has helped me with recommendations for front-end merchandising, and Don Grove at PBA Health has been invaluable in sharing his workflow and innovative concepts.”

Focusing on functional medicine, drug supplementation consultation and weight management is the future of Ben’s Pharmacy, and the three things Smith says will continue to set the independent pharmacy apart from chain stores. “That is what’s going to set us apart and I’m always looking for something different,” he adds. “Drug depletion education will be huge for us and functional medicine has a lot of possibilities. Four things we always recommend for everyone are coenzyme Q10, omega 3, vitamin D and probiotic supplements. Customer service is always front and center. What we offer is all part of the experience our patients have come to expect and know they are going to get.”

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