Forbes: Guardian’s growth refl ects pressure on local pharmacies.

If it seems as if Guardian Pharmacy Services is consistently adding locations, it’s because that’s what’s happening. 

Since 2016, the Atlanta-based company has added six new pharmacies, including a full acquisition of Collier’s. In May, it added Guardian Pharmacy of Orlando to the roster.

That brought the company to 29 locations, serving more than 89,000 residents. Notably, it has moved beyond the Southeast to add locations such as Ron’s Pharmacy in San Diego and Boomer Solutions of Tulsa, OK.

The growth for Guardian reflects how local pharmacists are feeling reimbursement pressure, said Kendall Forbes, executive vice president of sales and operations.

“To do more with less you have to have capital to invest in automation and technology,” he told McKnight’s. “It becomes very difficult to invest and invest.”

For example, there’s more pressure to connect with electronic medical records, which can be $10,000 to $15,000 per community.

“If you have 30 different communities through 20 different EMARs, there is another six-figure investment,” he says.

Plus, as payment plans cut reimbursement, “the pressure it puts on smaller pharmacies is insurmountable, quite honestly. Each month they have less and less cash.”

The options are generally to completely sell the pharmacy or close, but Guardian offers another choice. It will purchase 80% to 90% of the pharmacy as an owner, but lets the pharmacy owner still keep “skin in the game.”

“They operate as an owner mentality,” Forbes said. Guardian can offer organizational development, business planning and sales support, while providers can focus on their communities.