Kerr expands health focus beyond stores

Kerr Drug describes its free prescription delivery service — launched in fall 2010 and renewed to positive customer response for 2011 — as “old school innovation.” If “old school” means anticipating consumers’ health and everyday-product needs, and meeting them with a down-home approach to store service and a broader-than-usual menu of pharmacy care options, then the tag could apply to Kerr’s entire business strategy.

The chain has pruned its retail network to a core group of 76 high-yield drug stores and a number of clinical pharmacies, all in North Carolina, as well as a combination specialty pharmacy and mail-order center in its home market of Raleigh. “We have fewer properties now, but all of them are excellent,” asserted Diane Eliezer, Kerr’s director of marketing.

After developing a groundbreaking array of retail health services offered through a variety of drug store formats, Kerr remains one of chain pharmacy’s most innovative retail health providers. With the launch last year of Kerr Health, a separate division devoted to providing clinical pharmacy and wellness services directly to employers, long-term care facilities and other entities, the company has broadened its health focus well beyond the drug store setting.

Ten Kerr stores still feature “an expanded clinical presence” ranging from “a clinical office that does screenings” to “a full Community Care Center,” Eliezer told Drug Store News. These days, however, the chain’s highly regarded clinical pharmacy team is “out of the store as much or more than they’re in,” she said, as they provide immunizations, health screenings and other services to business and community organizations through Kerr Health.

“Originally, we thought there would be much more of a retail application with that, but it turns out that has not grown as quickly as we’d hoped. But there’s a great deal of business … out of the store, as well as [medication therapy management] and immunizations in the store,” Eliezer explained.

Meanwhile, the chain maintains its pioneering approach to community-based health care. Kerr was the first drug chain, for instance, to launch ActiveCare’s ActiveOne PAL, or personal assistance link, a rapid-response system that links seniors via a one-touch cell phone link to emergency health providers.

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