Community Pharmacy for the Next Era

Alumnus Greg Vassie is reinventing the business of community pharmacy while maintaining a patient-centric approach

Story by Zach Read | Photo credit Ryan McDaniel | Published September 27, 2022

As a teenager in the early 1990s, Greg Vassie moved to Chapel Hill from his home near Philadelphia. He didn’t relocate to become a student at Carolina. He moved to the Triangle for the flourishing music scene, influenced by the bands of the era and all that Chapel Hill had to offer young musicians.

But as a “generational pharmacist,” Vassie was keeping an eye on the future. He saw more to Chapel Hill than music. The University of North Carolina could become a valuable resource for him.

While focusing on music and touring, Vassie began coursework at UNC. Eventually, he became a full-time undergraduate at the university, then followed the family path to pharmacy school.

“My great-grandfather graduated from pharmacy school in Philadelphia in 1923,” Vassie notes. “He had his own pharmacy. Today, my in-laws are both pharmacists, my sister is a pharmacist, my wife is a pharmacist, so pharmacy is in the blood.”

At the UNC School of Pharmacy, Vassie discovered a service mindset that would shape his approach to pharmacy—a sense of responsibility that motivates the School’s students to serve the people of North Carolina.

“If I had to choose one word to encapsulate the school it would be ‘purpose,’” explains Vassie. “The people of the School of Pharmacy have always been driven by helping the citizens of North Carolina attain better health, improving access to health, and finding ways of coordinating care for a better good.”

Vassie, PharmD ‘03, also earned his MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler School of Business. After school, he provided medical-writing services, worked in long-term care with Mast Drug, and included off days at Drugs American in Lumberton to save money to open his first pharmacy in Pittsboro. 

As he reflected on the business of health care and the purpose of pharmacy within the continuum of care, he believed pharmacy could touch more people in more communities across the state. He conceptualized a model to identify the unique needs within each community. As a generational pharmacist with a service mindset and business acumen, he thought entrepreneurially about how to provide greater access to care—and better care—to North Carolinians. He opened pharmacies around the state, partnering with pharmacists who blended expertise, empathy, and understanding of the specific needs of their communities.

The model included the placement of urgent cares beside pharmacies so that pharmacists, caregivers, and patients could easily coordinate and collaborate on the complete care experience, enhancing offerings and providing a patient-centric consumer experience.

Today, Vassie and business partner and former classmate, Franklin Roye, are co-founders of IndyCare, a community pharmacy and embedded medical clinic with locations in Hillsborough and Kannapolis. IndyCare brings together teams of healthcare professionals to deliver simplified, high-quality care for patients.

Vassie considers their model a positive disrupter to the system, and he frequently shares his experiences with UNC Eshelman students interested in community pharmacy.

“It’s humbling to go from being a student less than 20 years ago to someone students today look to for advice. I hope to continue to push and advance the practice of pharmacy and help support how the next 20 years is going to evolve.”

Greg Vassie will be the lecturer for the third annual Harold and Carol Kohn Distinguished Alumni Lecture on Friday, October 7th. Click here for full details and to add the event to your calendar.