PITTSBURGH Rite Aid's John Learish sat down with Drug Store News to answer a few questions at the Caregiver Expo earlier this month.
Drug Store News: Why is caregiving important to Rite Aid, not only in Pittsburgh but nationwide?
John Learish: When you look at the caregiver segment, it’s growing exponentially. The statistics show that nearly 1-in-4 U.S. households currently cares for a relative or friend over 50. And as the population continues to age, this is something that, as a healthcare provider, we’re going to have to address.This is why Rite Aid’s vision of being the customer’s first choice for health and wellness is so clear. It’s really our responsibility to be a healthcare resource and an extension of the care that these folks are providing to those in need.When you talk to some of these folks, you hear some pretty heart-felt stories. Some of these folks have been caring for the elderly and the disabled for very long, extended periods of time. And it’s a difficult task. They don’t have good resources to help them with that [today]. We want to be that resource.Pittsburgh is a great market for Rite Aid, particularly with the recent acquisition of the Eckerd stores. Pittsburgh is now one of our largest markets. But Pittsburgh is also one of the oldest markets in the country. So there’s a big unmet need for this kind of resource and these kinds of services in the market. But it’s not unique to Pittsburgh. It’s a trend you’re going to see grow exponentially across the country.
DrSN: What services is Rite Aid providing at the Caregiver Expo?
Learish: First of all, when you visit the Rite Aid Pharmacy booth—we’ve got a great representation of pharmacists who are here to demonstrate the services that we offer, both everyday at any of our stores, as well as some of our specialized services. Here in Pittsburgh, we’ve had an ongoing pilot program with the University of Pittsburgh—our Rite Care centers, which offer very unique and specialized medication therapy management services. We have expert pharmacists from those centers that are here to counsel patients on really complex medication therapy concerns. We also have pharmacists from our core stores who are here to do blood-pressure screenings and counsel patients and provide information on a variety of health concerns, including our health condition platforms, [which includes] heart disease, diabetes, skin care, allergy care, pain management and obesity.Then we look at the support we have from our supplier base. Six different suppliers participated with us, all with products that index very highly against the caregiver segment. People from Carex with durable medical [goods], Ross Labs with nutritional products, Kimberly Clark for some of the incontinence products that they offer, Lifescan and Omron with diagnostic products, as well as Sage; so we’ve got a real relevant set of offerings both from the front of the store all the way back to the personalized services we’re offering in the pharmacy.There are also a pair of presentations that are being delivered by Rite Aid pharmacists, today. For example, Tom Tritinger will share with caregivers information on the Medicare prescription drug plans complete with strategies on how to pick the right prescription drug plan for them. And, as I mentioned earlier, our Rite Care centers are being highlighted today [at the Caregiver Expo] by Aaron Difillippo, one of the Rite Care pharmacists, who will educate caregivers on the benefits of medication therapy management.
DrSN: What is the takeaway caregivers should have after visiting the Caregiver Expo?
Learish: This is one of the ways that we demonstrate our commitment to our vision of being the customer’s first choice for health and wellness. We want them to be able to come to us, not just for the products that we offer, because honestly they can get those products and core pharmacy services anywhere. It’s the extra services, the extra information, the resources that we provide that help them manage their health and the health of those they are caring for. We want to be that resource for them.