With a focus on customer relationships and quality service, Hill City Pharmacy is open for business as of this March.
The new independent pharmacy hopes to provide the Greater Lynchburg area with a local pharmacy that offers low prices and personalized care. Although Hill City Pharmacy is new to the area, the inner-workings of a hometown pharmacy is hardly new to Bryan Moody, president and owner.
“I grew up in my dad’s independent pharmacy in Durham [North Carolina],” Moody said. “We’ve been in the pharmacy industry our whole lives.”
Common myths—such as national chain stores outnumbering local fronts—are inaccurate. Independent pharmacies still outnumber chain stores, according to Moody, and they not only offer the same items, they can sometimes offer more.
“The hardest thing for us is to get the message out that co-pays are the same,” Moody said. “We accept everybody’s insurance…and even save people money.”
Moody explained that although there has been a decrease in independent pharmacies over the years, the decline is not due to chain pharmacies offering more. Independent pharmacies primarily close their doors because owners get tired of fighting with insurance companies, and chain companies might offer large amounts of money to buy out the independent store. He clarified that most existing independent pharmacy owners are “in it” for their patients, because the profit margin is not as high as one might think.
“You surely today don’t open a pharmacy to be a wealthy business man,” Moody said. “You do everything you can just to keep the doors open. It’s a common misconception…folks come in, and they see that they paid $200 for a prescription; they don’t know that it cost me $196.” Driven by his passion for his customers, Moody hopes to grow Hill City Pharmacy and is currently working on partnering with a local university and a business downtown.
“We do things creatively to save people money,” Moody said. One way they help people save money is through “health savings accounts.”
“These people have ridiculously high deductibles, so the insurance company dictates,” Moody said. “The insurance company says you will pay $168 for this drug, but the insurance company pays zero dollars to help them; they just dictate this is what the patient will pay.” Owning his business gives Moody the ability to lower the amount that the patient pays, which is tremendously lower for most medications.
“Anyone who doesn’t have insurance [it] should be an absolute no brainer to come here,” Moody said. “When it comes to cash (non-insured) business, we can save people hundreds and even thousands of dollars.” For example, he explained that generic Zofran is very inexpensive for a pharmacy to purchase. Recently, a patient expressed that a chain pharmacy was going to charge more than a $70 co-pay for only 12 tablets.
“I charged them $10 bucks,” Moody said. “When it comes to those ‘cash’ prescriptions, there’s absolutely no reason anyone should go anywhere else.”
Hill City Pharmacy also has a $4 list of prescriptions, which includes more items than Walmart.
In the past, Lynchburg has housed many independently-owned pharmacies, however, in recent years that has not been the case. Moody hopes Hill City meets Lynchburg’s needs by bringing back a friendly hometown store.
“I despise going to a [chain] pharmacy … no customer service, nobody knows your name, nobody cares about your family or your healthcare,” Moody said. “And that’s not what pharmacy was designed to be.” The mission of Hill City is to save people money and build relationships with their customers.
“We’re here to attempt to get to know our patients, to know their families, to do the best we can to work with their physicians for them to have the best possible outcome,” Moody said. “We want people to live healthy, and if somebody doesn’t understand what medication they’re taking, or they’re taking it improperly, they’re probably not going to end up very healthy.”
They currently have five employees, not including the family members who volunteer in the store.
“My dad recently retired from his career so he helps out, my mom, my 80-year-old grandparents, my wife…” Moody said. Customers often find it amusing to see a little head pop up in the drive-through as one of Moody’s three kids waves.
Aside from the friendly nature of the pharmacy, Hill City strives to truly meet the needs of their customers, even offering a free delivery service to the Greater Lynchburg area.
“I started this because the worst day of my life is when one of my three kids is sick…and then you’ve got to drag them to the doctor for three hours…drag them to the pharmacy and wait,” Moody said. To use their one-of-a-kind home delivery program, you simply tell your doctor to send the prescription to Hill City Pharmacy with a note that they would like home delivery.
“You take your child home, and it’s delivered to your house within two hours,” Moody said. “You don’t even have to come to the pharmacy.” They also deliver to dorm rooms, understanding that many students do not own cars.
Additionally, they offer medication packaging, which conveniently organizes medications, helping customers remember what to take and when take it.
Aside from these unique services, Hill City considers themselves to be a “clinical pharmacy,” offering medication therapy management to ensure that each patient is receiving what they need.
“We do medication reconciliation where we sit down with the patient,” Moody said. “We find time and time again they’re not even taking four of these medications that their doctor prescribed; and then we send that information back to their physicians.”
Hill City Pharmacy is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eventually they hope to become a seven day a week, 24-hour pharmacy, and hope to have three locations within the next two years.
“We want to be Lynchburg’s hometown pharmacy,” Moody said. “If people give us one shot, they won’t go back.”
By Megan L. House