As a full-service long-term care pharmacy, United RX prides itself on being customer-centric and innovative with a dedicated team that cares about its patients. United RX provides services to more than 80 skilled nursing facilities, assisted-living communities, developmentally disabled facilities and youth homes, so assembling the right team of people is key for the company’s continued success.  

“We want someone who is eager to work, who has good verbal skills, has basic math skills and comes across in a professional manner and can communicate a yearning for this job,” says COO Chuck Benain, RPh. “I need motivated people because I’ve had a lot of people in my career seem motivated during the hiring process and once they get hired they fall into a rut and lose the same interest for the job.” 

The Hillside, Ill.-based company is independently owned and has been providing residents in long-term care facilities with their pharmaceutical needs for seven years. To ensure it is assisting customers and providing medications to its residents in an efficient manner, the company went paperless to reduce the possibility of errors and improves communication between the pharmacy and facilities. 

“Our technology shifted and facilities now have similar technology to what’s used in hospitals with electronic medical records and an electronic medical administration network,” Benain says. “We have adapted our software interfaces with the nursing homes and the ordering process is now electronic versus sending faxes.” 

United RX sets itself apart in the industry by being flexible. It works closely with customers to provide solutions that will address their current needs and expectations while achieving the desired outcomes for their residents and organization. “We will tailor our service and products to fit the needs of the facilities we currently service and future customers through technology and hard work,” the company says.  

Building a solid team to provide the “personal touch of a hometown pharmacy” is the goal at United RX. The pharmacy is available 24/7 and offers multiple deliveries during the week and one delivery each weekend day. It also provides consultation and infusion services as well as technical support to find the most effective and least expensive drugs. 

Retaining Talent

United RX has a staff of 200 employees with 30 of them being pharmacists and the rest technicians. “I think people think of a pharmacy tech as being someone working at Walgreens, for example, ringing up the cash register and filling pills,” Benain says. “Our environment is completely different.”

The company does have some technicians filling punch cards, but it also needs technical people who can operate the robots United RX uses to fill a majority of prescriptions. Basic knowledge of the industry and terminology is an asset, but a majority of the training is done in-house. “Because we have our own specialized software, we produced our own training videos and I think it has helped because you can get into a rut and do things the same way and sometimes that’s not the best way,” Benain explains. “We can find new ways to do the same thing that are more efficient.” 

United RX produced its first training video about six months ago that it requires every new and long-term employee watch. Before the videos, the company would have new hires train with seasoned employees to learn as they went along. “This is a new approach that gives them an overall view of what needs to be done and how to do it,” Benain explains. “We see an initial impact with new hires. You can tell the ones that are going to work out because they take very detailed notes.”

United RX promotes a positive work environment and although it can be stressful at times, Benain says the team deflects some of the stress with comedy that lightens the mood and bonds the staff. “We have a nice work environment and try to enjoy ourselves at work,” he adds.

Overcoming Obstacles

Using a hiring platform like Indeed to find qualified individuals for United RX’s technician positions was a challenge for the company. Benain began partnering with local pharmacy schools to find people who are motivated to be in the industry. “Now we have people coming to us instead of us reaching out to them,” he says. “We sent emails to 30 people on Indeed and never got one response. I don’t know why that failed; I thought it would be a great idea.” 

One obstacle could be that the technician positions are not high-paying jobs and are usually not seen as long-term careers. “They make maybe $12 to $15 per hour and most are not going to have a career in this,” Benain admits. “They don’t need a college education; they need a high school diploma and it’s a simple first step for someone to get into the field.”

Despite its turnover, United RX does have some technicians, drivers and billing personnel who have worked in the industry for 25 to 30 years. United RX can grow 30 to 40 percent today without having to take on new employees. “We have efficiencies built in that allows us to leverage the employees we currently have,” Benain says. “We are looking at several other states and our model is built on that adaptability to go into new states and easily take on new business without having to ramp up a lot of new staff.” 

United RX’s goal is to expand outside the saturated Chicago market. “We are building a team that’s going to allow us some organic growth in the industry and we want to get into new areas,” Benain adds. “Smaller, more rural areas is our target.” 

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