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NEW YORK The pending retirement of Kevin Tripp as EVP and president of Supervalu’s Retail Midwest region marks a big changing of the guard for one of chain pharmacy’s biggest players. Still unclear is if whether it also signals an exit from the retail pharmacy industry of this well-known and respected executive.
Tripp, a veteran pharmacy leader with more than three decades in pharmacy and operations management at Albertsons and American Stores, has had a major impact on Supervalu’s sprawling pharmacy business, driving the company to adopt and expand new patient-care models and forge closer ties with health plan payers, health advocacy groups and patients themselves.
Tripp came to Supervalu through its purchase of much of the Albertsons retail empire in 2007, and has been the ultimate decision-maker for Supervalu’s pharmacy operations. Among his reports is Chris Dimos, president of the pharmacy division; together, the two leaders have significantly broadened the clinical and patient-education services offered by Supervalu pharmacists, and championed new reimbursement models for those services from the health plan sponsors footing the bills for patients.
At Albertson’s, Tripp actively promoted certification for diabetic management among the chain’s more than 5,600 pharmacists and more than 2,000 certified pharmacy technicians, overseeing a program that qualified many pharmacists as certified diabetic educators and one of retail pharmacy’s most extensive disease management and diabetic care service offerings.
That commitment continued at Supervalu. Under Tripp’s direction, Supervalu expanded deeply into clinical care services and added new incentives to lure customers to the company’s more than 920 supermarket-based and stand-alone pharmacies. On a periodic basis, those pharmacies offer health screenings for diabetes, heart health, thyroid conditions and other diseases, and education by pharmacists in its stores to help patients prevent or live with a variety of conditions from diabetes to headaches.
In a bid to increase compensation by health plan payers for pharmacist-delivered patient-care services, Tripp and Dimos also oversaw the launch of Vitality Check, a health assessment program for health plan members and other patients delivered by company pharmacists for a fee.
Supervalu’s clinical care and patient education efforts have gained the company plaudits from health advocates. One example: an Award of Meritorious Achievement, presented in April from the American Heart Association for raising awareness of heart disease and its causes.
Under Tripp and Dimos Supervalu’s pharmacy team also wrestled constantly with new ways to merge the in-store pharmacies in its sprawling network of supermarket holdings — which include Jewel-Osco, Albertsons, Supervalu, Cub Foods, Lucky, Acme, Shaw’s and Shop 'n Save, among other chains across the United States — with the offerings in its food aisles. A prime example: the company’s Eating Healthy with Diabetes program, under which the pharmacy, patient education and healthcare services offered by the pharmacies are tied to a broader, holistic approach to wellness and disease prevention.
“The way we go to market is, we want our customers — regardless of which of our banners they’re having their prescriptions filled in — to have a common experience. And how we engage them with some of our newer programs or clinical programs may shift depending on the banner,” Tripp explained in one interview with Drug Store News. “All these banners entered the organization at different points,” he added. “Some of them, like Cub, Jewel-Osco and Sav-on, are already well developed along the clinical pathway. Some of the other banners weren’t quite there yet, but they’re quickly catching up.”
Long term, said Tripp, “The vision is that we’ll have a national enterprise, and based on our ability to execute [various clinical programs] within the states, we will.”
Supervalu’s quest to integrate its pharmacies with other store capabilities will continue following Tripp’s retirement. That much was clear from the company’s announcement that it will restructure to create a new health-and-wellness division under Duncan Mac Naughton, EVP merchandising and marketing. The goal, according to Supervalu’s announcement, is to do a better job of welding together the pharmacy and health and beauty offerings, “creating a total health-and-wellness experience for customers.”