Matt Hopp knew he wanted to focus on eldercare from an early age. He has dedicated his career to the health-care industry, first in the corporate pharmacy world and now as president of Guardian Pharmacy Atlanta, which specializes in packaging medications for assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation care facilities. Hopp has guided the pharmacy’s growth through its 2017 acquisition of Collier’s Pharmacy, which helped the company double its staff, square footage and number of residents it serves in the market.
What led you to your career? I’ve always worked in the health-care industry. Shortly after I moved to Georgia in 2004, I worked for a large corporate pharmacy. It can be difficult for a large corporation to match the level of one-on-one service that a local provider can offer its customers. That’s why I partnered with Guardian Pharmacy Services. The company provides local pharmacy owners with a corporate team to assist with the time-consuming day-to-day business operations including payroll, HR, IT and more, so that our team can focus on the specialized needs of the communities and residents we serve.
Who was your biggest influence in your career (mentor, teacher, relative)? What did he/she do? I was fortunate to grow up near both sets of grandparents. They were extremely hard working, started their own companies and worked many types of jobs. But as my grandparents got older, they lost a lot of their independence. I saw there was a need for better services to help those people who require assistance throughout the day. That led me to focus on eldercare.
What’s the biggest challenge in your career or job? Health care, and the pharmacy space in particular, is a difficult industry. There are many outside factors of which we have little control. The constantly changing health-care laws on a state and federal level, along with insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers dictating what medications are covered and how much they will cost, create a lot of challenges for our customers. To best serve them, we must always be on top of this ever-evolving environment so that we are able to explain it to our clients.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job? It has been great to see the impact Guardian Pharmacy of Atlanta has had on the community. We are now providing care services for thousands of residents in dozens of cities across the state. With the acquisition of Collier’s Pharmacy last year, we have doubled our staff — and we have created new local jobs. We have built a great work family at Guardian — and it has been exciting to see it grow so we can better serve our seniors.
What’s the hardest business lesson you’ve learned? It’s important to constantly reevaluate your processes in order to improve. When we first started Guardian Pharmacy of Atlanta, I was able to benefit from my experiences at previous companies. However, I quickly learned it’s important to design your own procedures based on best practices for your business. Developing scalable processes that can consistently grow with your business is vital to avoid major redesigns along the way.
Why has Guardian Pharmacy of Atlanta grown so much? In 2017, Guardian Pharmacy of Atlanta acquired Collier’s Pharmacy, expanded from a 9,000-square-foot facility to 18,000 square feet, and doubled the amount of residents we serve in the market. Since the beginning, we have run our business according to the Golden Rule: treating each and every customer as we would if they were family. Our focus is not just on each community we service but also on each individual resident. We take a more personal approach, which has not only helped us grow but also retain the customers we’ve gotten to know so well over the years.
What is a long-term pharmacy, and how does it differ from standard pharmacy? Unlike common retail pharmacies, we do not operate as a store that has walk-in customers. We package medications for assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation care. Many people have seen a loved one separate their medications into a container according to the day of the week; we do that on a much larger scale, as we separate meds not only by the day but down to the specific hour. This makes medication distribution efficient and accurate, and ensures the safety and well-being of the residents our customers serve.
How are your products delivered to the customer? The long-term-care industry in Georgia currently supports an estimated $6.2 billion of the state’s economy. We deliver to more than 100 communities per day, representing thousands of individual residents. Each day, using technologically advanced equipment, our team of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians package medications for the residents of the communities we serve. Then our team of couriers delivers the medications to each community the same day it’s ordered. We also perform emergency deliveries.
What other services does Guardian Pharmacy of Atlanta offer? We provide on-site clinical consulting and medication training to the community care staff, and train them on various technology offerings to assist in the tracking and monitoring of medication administration to the residents. We also provide continuing education classes. Our skill assessments for the staff of our communities help to ensure that medications are stored, administered, recorded and disposed of properly. Another key component of our services is our in-house billing department. We also make recommendations on less expensive medications, if available.
What are your future plans for the pharmacy? As we continue to grow, I remind my team about the importance of focusing on practices that have made us successful and to not lose sight of the personal touch we provide. One of my personal plans is to continue to evaluate new technology that can improve accuracy and efficiency. Additionally, I want to remain focused on our staff and culture within the company.