We recently sat down with ASAP’s Gilbert Russell and asked him a few questions about what differentiates ASAP from its competitors. Here’s a snapshot from our conversation:
What differentiates ASAP from other specialty pharmacies?
Gilbert: You know I think it was summed up by a patient that I spoke to recently that’s been on our service for 8-9 years and I am always looking for ways in which we can add to our customers and families that we serve. I know the level of service that we can provide and I know that we go beyond the the prescription as far as the level of service that we can do between the doctor and the patient and the patient and the doctor. We recognize that the pharmacist is the one advocate that sits in the middle of every patient’s healthcare team. And you know, we know that we do those other little service things that maybe are unique to patient and this patient said, “Let me stop you. He said the one thing that stands out about ASAP is not the service that you provide. Let me just get that straight in your mind. It’s not the service,” he said.
“I can get service like this from anybody. But what sets ASAP apart from all the other pharmacies that I’ve dealt with is the relationship. Your pharmacy more than anyone else that I’ve ever had serve me has endeavored to build a relationship with me, and that’s what I need, because of my illness and is the main reason I keep getting my prescriptions filled at ASAP Pharmacy. It’s the relationship. You all endeavor to have a relationship with me and that makes a difference in my care on a day-to-day basis.
Can you give us another example of what that looks like in endeavoring to build a relationship?
Gilbert: There is this story where this particular hemophilia patient would share that they say was what really made a difference for him was that there was a student who knew of this patient’s plight and she was a journalism student at the University of Syracuse and she was graduating and she wanted to do a documentary. This was when I hadn’t been at ASAP for very long, but maybe a year, at most, two years. And she was having a fundraiser in Washington DC at the Ethiopian Embassy because she wanted to do a documentary on the AIDS pandemic and Africa and ASAP. I mentioned this to our owner and I said, yeah, it’s a good thing. We should donate some money and get involved in a project like this. The patient was going to this event, too. He agreed.
So I said, okay. Well, I tell you what, let’s fly there together. So he’s flying out of Charlotte. I flew from Chicago to Charlotte and then we both flew together. He and his wife and I flew together up to Washington DC. Keep in mind, this patient also has Hep C and HIV. So he’s sitting with his wife and in another part of the plane. I’m sitting in the coach section when she comes back and says, “Can you go up and sit with my husband?” I said, “Sure, I’ll go up there and sit with them.” So I went and sat with them and he was having a nosebleed. Now, you know, what’s the greatest fear that you have when you know that someone has HIV blood, you know, you understand that there can be a risk. But I also knew within my own Christian ethic that you empathize and you enter into things with people and you don’t try to find excuses, you let God take care of that. And so here’s a guy who was bleeding profusely from his nose and I’m just constantly funneling tissue to him from the flight attendant. The attendant doesn’t know what’s going on besides the fact that we’re at 35,000 feet and this guy’s nose is bleeding. But the patient was struck by the fact that I didn’t run from him and was struck by the fact that I leaned in closer to him the more that he bled he was touched by the fact that everybody else would have pushed away from him and his experience. I’ve been with others and have felt pushed away from them, but I didn’t and so because of that, we have a lasting loving friendship.
And its this same reputation that has spilled over into the eyes of the competitors, too. Can you share with us an example of this happening?
Gilbert: I can honestly say that ASAP’s reputation in the marketplace is what is the thing that I’m most proud of. I was at a conference just this past week and one of our competitors that we’ve had in the past came up to me, one who would actually refer patients to us that they couldn’t serve. That says a lot. This says a lot about your character as a company and how that’s received. As they (major competitor) approached me again at this conference, they told me, “You know, if something ever happens at our company, could I come and work for you guys because I love what you do?”
And that to me, that says so much more. Yeah along with our level of care and what we do for our patients, that when your competition says, “You know, I respect what you all do. in fact I love what you do.”
That says everything. And with us, everyday is a new day and a new opportunity to go beyond the prescription and to truly meet people where they are at and not just say we are going to provide this level of service, but rather instead, show them day in and day out that they do indeed matter to us way beyond the script. That’s who we are. It’s what we do.
Do you have an ASAP Beyond the Description story like this? If so, we’d love to hear from you and share your story. At ASAP, it’s who we are and who have been since the beginning that sets us apart. We are honored to serve our patients. They’re not just another script to us. They’re real people with real heartbeats. They are family.