Showcasing pharmacists’ expanded role

Aaron Jennissen of Thrifty White Pharmacy, Dan Miller of Rite Aid, and TJ Johnsrud of Nucara Management Group, pictured above, participated in a panel on Sunday to discuss innovative pharmacy practice models.

BOSTON — “A drug store is not just for sick individuals. It’s the place to come to showcase wellness and promote health.”

That assertion, made by Dan Miller, SVP pharmacy operations for Rite Aid, summed up the shift taking place in pharmacy both at Rite Aid and throughout the retail pharmacy industry. Miller’s remark came during an Insight Session on innovative pharmacy practice models at NACDS Total Store Expo on Sunday. The panel discussion also included presentations from Aaron Jennissen, VP pharmacy operations for Thrifty White Pharmacy, and TJ Johnsrud, a pharmacist and president of Nucara Management Group.

Miller talked about Rite Aid’s Wellness store concept, which is designed, in part, to “showcase what a pharmacist can do around professional services.”

Rite Aid also created “a new position,” in its stores, he explained — the Wellness Ambassadors, who help customers in the aisles navigate health-and-wellness product offerings and provide guidance. Miller said those ambassadors serve as “a bridge between the consumer and our Pharmacists to help them understand [healthier choices].”

The goal is “to improve the customer experience, but also to differentiate that experience they have in coming to a Rite Aid store.” Those Wellness Ambassadors, he added, also help drive front-end sales.

Jennissen discussed Thrifty White’s Care Coordination program, through which the chain partners with local hospital systems on behalf of post-discharge patients to keep them on track with their medication regimens and out of the hospital through pharmacist interventions and oversight. The program has improved medication adherence and reduced hospital readmissions.

“Historically, pharmacists were able to dedicate about 15% of their time to what we would call MTM or direct patient care services,” Johnsrud said in a separate presentation. Achieving true success in shifting the pharmacy practice model and aligning it to the new health paradigm, he noted, would mean boosting that percentage by a factor of two or three.

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