Baybridge Pharmacy Corp.
For the patient
Business View Magazine interviews Greg Savino, Founder of the Baybridge Pharmacy Corp., as part of our focus on best practices in the pharmacy/medical sector.
Greg Savino founded Baybridge Pharmacy Corp. in Bayside Queens, NY in 2015, four years after receiving his doctorate from St. John’s University. “I didn’t always have the desire to be a healthcare professional,” he reveals. “That instinct only started after I got one of my first jobs at the age of 16. I found a position as a stock boy in a corporate retail chain and the pharmacy department sparked my curiosity. As I learned more about pharmacy as a profession and industry, I grew more attracted to it. While applying to pharmacy programs in college, I transitioned into the pharmacy department within that same retail store. As I progressed through my years of study, my appreciation and respect for pharmacists and their roles as healthcare professionals grew, as well. Upon graduating, I stayed with the company and accepted a position as a registered pharmacist.
“Not long after, I was offered an opportunity to work at a newly acquired specialty location, focused primarily in oncology, HIV, and transplant,” Savino continues. “It was there where I really honed my skills. I started as the oncology pharmacist and, shortly after, managed the entire pharmacy and front-of-store. I experienced, firsthand, the struggles patients encounter when trying to source and afford hard-to-find specialty medication, some costing upwards of $10,000 for a month’s supply of therapy. Having opportunities to advocate for patients and assist them in achieving their optimal health lay heavy on my heart. During my tenure, I also experienced the limitations corporate structure imposed on my ability to realize my full potential as both a healthcare professional and an individual. At that point, I decided that leaving the corporate world and opening my own establishment would be a progressive move for both me and my community.
“I was determined to bring something to the neighborhood that had been lost; a high level of patient care and patient access. Pharmacy and healthcare, as a whole, had seemingly become a very corrupt, convoluted, and opaque industry. For me to provide more clarity to the industry and to provide patients with the quality care they wanted to receive and deserved, I had to do something that was different.
“In the beginning, our niche was focused on oncology and dermatology. Oncology was my forté and knowing the difficulty patients may encounter while filling their prescription medications gave me the determination to make it a primary disease state of Baybridge. Accessing oncology medications at an affordable price and at a reasonable expense of a patient’s efforts was, sadly, an uncommon scenario. More commonly, the term ‘limited distribution drug,’ would arise, meaning patients could only access these medications from very few and very specific pharmacies spread across the country. Patients were throwing their hands up and saying, ‘I just can’t figure this out.’ They didn’t have anyone to rely on for help, until Baybridge.
“Dermatology was a volatile market when speaking of medication cost. Occasional scarcity of specific therapies, when combined with this volatility, led to opportunity to both assist patients by creating affordable access to their prescribed medications, and for the business to maintain a steady stream of revenue. This recipe created much of the success and recognition that Baybridge is privileged to have today.
“In the beginning, it was a very long time before I took a salary. I kept reinvesting in the business and in new employees. It wasn’t long after I opened Baybridge that I renovated the store to make it more conducive for pharmacy workflow and create more space for the back end of the pharmacy. I saw the impact that I was having on my local community and I also saw how that impact could benefit some of my neighboring communities. I started expanding my outreach and cultivating relationships with doctors and patients; networking my services through word-of-mouth and making myself known for the type of offering we provided.”
Today, Baybridge Pharmacy has 35 employees, eight of whom are pharmacists, “which is a very high ratio based on the number of prescriptions we fill,” Savino admits. “Having a large staff provides our patients with accessibility to a pharmacist, which has become seemingly impossible in other pharmacy settings. We understand that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are so integral in patient care that creating this type of easy access has created a great appeal to our customer base. When you call Baybridge, we answer the phone. There is no automated message, no prompts you need to listen for, and no hoops to jump through. We feel that we combine the modern technology aspect of dispensing prescriptions with the traditional access and feel of outstanding customer service.”
The company’s geographic footprint is about a 50-mile radius from its location in northern Queens, which means it services almost 20 counties in the tri-state area. “Being able to offer the level of service we do is an exceptional feat, but doing so, while also offering some of the most competitive cash prices in the tri-state area, really elevates our appeal,” Savino notes. “When it comes to patients who don’t have insurance, as well as those who do, we try to bring them the best price available. And for our cash-paying patients, we know that we are far below what anyone else is offering. We don’t see the need to price medications as high as others do.”
Savino cites some of the reasons that he is able to keep his prices low: “Baybridge has relationships with various manufacturers and distributors, which when combined with our purchasing power, warrant strength when negotiating pricing. Although seemingly simple, that’s not something that every pharmacy can offer, or every pharmacy can adopt into their business model. Having open and relatively transparent communication with these vendors helps us achieve this offering. Our mainstay in wholesale distribution is CityMedRx. Much of what we purchase is done through our membership in a group purchasing organization, DermSource. DermSource operates on a fixed profit margin, which is refreshing in an industry that is so heavily opaque. Their ability to source medications at fair and reasonable prices allows us to extend those low prices to our cash-paying customers, sometimes even offering a better price to someone who has insurance coverage.”
“I’ve never been focused on the bottom line,” Savino insists. “I’ve always been focused on developing a culture inside my store that is going to promote a positive patient experience, because that’s the force that is going to continue to drive my business. I know in the long run, if I continue to invest in those individuals that make up my business, the reward will naturally come. And the reward of satisfaction and accomplishment, combined with our mission as a company, is more valuable to me than trying to earn an extra few bucks here and there. What will make a true difference in our lives is seeing and knowing what we’ve done for our patients, our community, and the healthcare industry.
In terms of going to market, Savino says that a lot of what the pharmacy does is generated by the staff communicating to physician practices or prescribers’ offices. “We educate them on the various programs we work with, the different services we provide, and the type of turnaround that we can offer for their practice and their patients. Then, they’ll, potentially, extend those opportunities to their patients if they so desire. Often, especially in the field of dermatology, customers end up dealing with three or four pharmacies to get their prescriptions. For one, they may have to go to their local CVS; for another, there may be a pharmacy a few miles away delivering it; another one is across the country; another is being compounded in a facility, who knows where? We attempt to streamline that process for physicians and patients through a single, local, independently-owned pharmacy.”
Recently, Baybridge Pharmacy renovated again, this time doubling its footprint. “We’re located in a strip mall and occupy almost 2,000 square feet, now,” Savino reports. “And we dedicated all of the new space to our back-end pharmacy. In addition to that, I know that our customer reach is limited to where our delivery team can drive. We don’t mail anything. So, in order for me to extend my reach and service a broader population, I may consider opening an additional brick and mortar location.
“Going forward, I also see potential for creating, or adopting, a platform where patients can access the status of their medication delivery in real-time. This would entail tying our delivery tracking system with an off-the-shelf, or custom, technology that can translate real time location to customers. People naturally like to know what’s going on and where their medication is. If I can put that information into the patients’ hands and allow them to simply click and view the status and ETA of their delivery, that will really continue to separate us from the competition. I believe that if we can effectively create a platform for them to do so, we’ll make a greater positive impact on their healthcare experience.”
“I always focus on treating the patient the way they want to be treated,” Savino reiterates. “Providing true empathy with an endearing and patient-centric model of care has been a mainstay within Baybridge that all employees carry out. It’s me and my team. When you work with me, you immediately become part of a family. I invest time into my employees so they understand our mission. I am constantly developing team members and presenting them with opportunities for growth and added responsibility. When you invest in people, the return is far greater than any monetary investment can return. For me, the greatest reward is seeing those around me perform and excel at a high level. The satisfaction they experience is extremely gratifying. And further, when we accomplish goals, we accomplish them together, and that sense of achievement is genuinely felt by all in the Baybridge family. Although we may appear small, relative to the entire market, we know that we’re memorable and will continue to have a positive impact. That’s something that we all share in together. I think that the development of that culture is what we’re able to express when we reach out to customers and our community. They know we care about their health and well being. That is truly our goal: to provide patients with the most affordable and accessible options for their medication, while offering the highest level of customer service and expertise.”
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Baybridge Pharmacy Corp.
WHAT: A customer-oriented, community pharmacy
WHERE: Bayside Queens, NY