Start your engines

Walgreens' race to convert all stores to its new look began in Indianapolis



It may be more than just coincidence that Walgreens has decided to really blow the doors off of retail pharmacy in the same city that screams horsepower every year over Memorial Day weekend. Because even as those Indy 500 drivers are chugging their milk at the Brickyard, Walgreens’ pharmacists will be celebrating a victory of their own as they and their customers help redefine what “drug store” means in shopper parlance.


Walgreens is building a market-driven, 
consumer-focused retail health destination center that is focused on driving improved healthcare value for customers. “We are going to move away from the old practice of pharmacy, which was primarily transactional, to more of a personal relationship,” noted Marcel Naddaf, Walgreens market pharmacy director for the Indianapolis and St. Louis markets, during a Drug Store News tour of the Indianapolis market stores in June. “This is a completely new pharmacy, health and wellness experience with a focus on health outcomes,” he said.


One of the key differentiators across all of Walgreens’ Well Experience stores is a consultation pharmacist positioned in a professional and private setting at the pharmacy. Beyond fielding patient inquiries, the pharmacist is able to engage with patients when they need it, how they need it and when it’s most appropriate. “We are seeing great success with this initiative,” Naddaf said. “While the goal is to improve medication adherence for our patients, the positive feedback from our patients has been unbelievable.” It goes well beyond patient feedback, however, and helps to advance the role of the pharmacist by being a trusted and accessible resource for questions about medication and care. How many times does a doctor follow through with a call regarding a new therapy? If the answer is “not many,” Naddaf proposed, then a Walgreens pharmacist has just distinguished themselves within that patient’s healthcare paradigm.


In addition to private consultation rooms located adjacent to the pharmacy, the Indianapolis market stores, as well as many of the other Walgreens Well Experience stores, also feature a larger community room — there are 12 strategically positioned throughout Indianapolis — that can host community-driven health-related information gatherings. It’s not only an opportunity for Walgreens’ pharmacy to interact with the local community, but also a venue for local primary care physicians and specialists to work with Walgreens on specific healthcare topics.


And Walgreens’ pharmacists in the Indianapolis market are empowered to go “above and beyond,” replicating the company’s latest ad slogan, in developing their own relevant services within that community room.


For example, Indianapolis market pharmacy manager Amy Lenell at her store created “Weight Check Wednesdays” — an initiative to educate and support moms with new additions on breast-feeding and infant care. The initiative is done in conjunction with the Indiana Perinatal Network, and while still in pilot phase, that could become a scalable service designed to help capture a family’s healthcare decision-maker early in her tenure.


Walgreens is even marking a new position within the retail environment — the Walgreens Health Guide that serves as a liaison between the patient, the on-site Take Care Clinic and the pharmacy. Armed with tablets dialed into the Walgreens home page, health guides have at least two years of experience in healthcare training, Naddaf said. And while there is a kiosk of sorts in front of the pharmacy, that guide is more often in the aisles helping patients than waiting for patients to come to them.


Taking in the total store — a stronger position in fresh foods, knowledgeable beauty adviser, Take Care Clinics and the pharmacy — Walgreens hopes to generate new dedicated trips for a time-crunched consumer in search of “well,” no matter how that patient defines “well” in his or her own life.

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