‘Healthcare renaissance’ transforms attitudes

Rite Aid chairman and CEO, and new NACDS chairman, John Standley (pictured above) discussed retailer-supplier partnerships during Sunday’s opening business session. 

BOSTON — Chain pharmacy is roiling the nation’s troubled healthcare system with “disruptive innovation” and bringing new, more accessible retail health-and-wellness solutions to consumers, NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson told attendees during the first part of the business session at the NACDS Total Store Expo Sunday.

Opening the general business session, Anderson praised the contributions of pharmacy retailers and suppliers to the nation’s healthcare system, and said the industry faces enormous opportunities as health care shifts to prevention, patient-centered care and greater accessibility. “Health and wellness — and patient-focused retailing — have gone mainstream,” said NACDS’ top executive. “The opportunity is greater right now than ever before. If this moment in time cannot be called a renaissance of health, wellness and consumer-focused retailing, then no time in our history will ever bear that name.”

Underscoring that, Anderson pointed to NACDS’ most recent “Victory Vision” opinion research survey of likely voters, conducted in July. “We asked whether pharmacies should be allowed to offer a variety of services: vaccinations ... checking blood pressure … treating common illnesses through a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant … administering rapid tests for flu and strep. In just one year, the percentage of people who support expanded roles for pharmacies went up,” he said.

“The acceptance was already high. But thanks to the activities within your companies, and thanks to NACDS telling this important story, today it’s even higher.”

The survey’s findings reaffirmed the importance that consumers place on their interactions with pharmacists.  For instance, said Anderson, roughly half of respondents had spoken to a pharmacist about a prescription drug or OTC product over the past 12 months, and “more than 7-in-10 said a pharmacist’s recommendation on an OTC is important to them.” In addition, he said, 3-of-10 consumers surveyed had spoken to a pharmacist about a personal health question. “And — in a powerful statement about the relationship between the pharmacy and the front end — more than half said they purchased food or groceries at a pharmacy,” Anderson added.

A transformation in attitudes toward pharmacy is also underway in government, said Anderson. “Something very interesting is going on in Congress,” he noted. “There seems to be a race to capture the flag of healthcare innovation. And NACDS is positioning the health-and-wellness solutions of chains and suppliers as part of it.”

Value of partnerships
Taking the stage after Anderson, Rite Aid chairman and CEO, and new NACDS chairman, John Standley focused on retailer-supplier partnerships. Forging new and stronger alliances with its supplier partners was critical to Rite Aid’s ability to regain its momentum and to drive new health and wellness innovations, Standley said. And in the midst of a transforming health system and a new, more dynamic role for retail pharmacy, those partnerships will be key to the success of every pharmacy retailer and supplier, he noted.

“Healthcare delivery is undergoing historic change, placing unprecedented demands on our business while presenting enormous opportunities to grow,” said Standley. “As an industry, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to further support the health and wellness of our communities.”

That transformation “is already taking place,” Standley told TSE participants, “as additional pharmacies offer services like medication therapy management, immunizations and retail clinics. And though we’re supporting the health of our patients in more ways than ever before, … there’s even more we can do heading forward.”

That makes retailer-supplier alliances more critical than ever, he added. “The Total Store Expo gives us the opportunity to change by building stronger partnerships that fuel innovation throughout our companies. At the heart of this process is the relationship between suppliers and retailers.”

Those “supplier-retailer partnerships,” Standley added, have been “critical … to Rite Aid” as it transformed its business over the past four years.”

“Our transformation is unique, but it also has similarities to what’s occurring at other retailers throughout our industry,” he added. “As we continue this transformation, it must be said that NACDS events like the Total Store Expo have been vital to our company’s evolution, and have contributed to the culture of collaboration and innovation we share today with our supplier partners.”


- 5:14 PM
rhammerle says

As both major speakers wisely noted, the retail industry does, indeed, have a huge opportunity to positively transform healthcare, not just domestically but internationally. Five large companies have taken an early lead-- two traditional retailers and three, later arrivals: Walmart, Walgreens Alliance Boots, Apple, Google and Amazon. Walmart, and to a lesser degree, WAG/WAB, have one advantage: both have physical, community-based, retail-point--of-entry access, in addition to online entry---something that still counts in the "hands on" world of healthcare. Apple and Google both have global healthcare aspirations, notwithstanding public statements to the contrary, but Apple has taken the digital market lead and won the early allegiance of physicians, medical device companies and mobile customers. Amazon has online purchasing, supply chain management and delivery capabilities that the others still don't have, but not yet a vision of whether and how to play in the healthcare space. Rite Aid was a leader in recognizing and applying some of the capabilities of telemedicine technology, but is not a national force. Target completely missed the boat in the early 2000s. It had an unfettered opportunity to be the first national retail mover in the healthcare reform field, leveraging its broad customer demographics, its in town witness to what would become MinuteClinic and its creative marketing. Additionally, Target missed the opportunity to use its banking subsidiary and multimillion-issued smart cards to piggyback electronic medical records on the magnetic strip. Finally, it missed its electronic claims and money processing capabilities to clear medical transactions before customers left the store. The big red card, with one's up to date, online, medical history, could have been the credit card customers, patients and physicians would always want to keep-- before cloud storage and online processing came along. (In hindsight, Target's bank cards and management would have failed the sine qua non test for healthcare: privacy and security.) Ron Hammerle Chairman and CEO Health Resources, Ltd. Tampa, Florida

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