September 23, 2013

Walgreens Healthcare Clinic (formerly known as Take Care Clinic) has formed a multi-year agreement with healthcare technology company Inovalon to provide Inovalon’s data-driven encounter support platform, Electronic Patient Assessment Solution Suite (ePASS), within Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens.

The news clearly represents yet another step in Walgreens’ commitment to improving patients’ access to healthcare solutions. In fact, the news comes about a week after the retailer announced that it is bringing access to Theranos’ new lab testing service through Walgreens pharmacies nationwide.

September 13, 2013

Nurse practitioners are increasingly playing a key role in helping patients stay on track in taking their medications as prescribed, with nearly half of NPs indicating that the time they spend on patient education has increased over the past two years, according to Manhattan Research’s “Taking the Pulse Nurses 2013” study.

Highlighting the important role that NPs play in today’s healthcare system is essential as millions of uninsured Americans come into the insurance fold in 2014 due to health reform amid a growing shortage of primary care physicians.

September 13, 2013

The Department of Health and Human Services is setting aside $5.3 million to expand health information technology — particularly telehealth — in rural areas in order to improve mental health services for veterans.

Telehealth represents one of the best ways to expand healthcare services to underserved areas while also lowering costs by expanding the area a health professional can cover from a single location.

September 13, 2013

Theranos and Walgreens announced a long-term partnership to bring access to Theranos’ new lab testing service through Walgreens pharmacies nationwide. As the service becomes available through Theranos Wellness Centers inside Walgreens stores, consumers will be able to access less invasive and more affordable clinician-directed lab testing.

With this news, it becomes clear that the days of the Walgreens pharmacist and nurse practitioner are numbered. Not because those professionals are going anywhere, mind you. But because the connotation associated with those occupations really no longer apply. With the number of healthcare services being rolled out under the Walgreens umbrella, it would be more apropos to identify them as healthcare brokers.

September 6, 2013

Expanding pharmacists' role in Canada could reduce the burden of chronic illness on patients and save the country's healthcare system between C$1.4 billion and C$1.9 billion (US$1.34 billion-$1.83 billion) over the next three years, according to a new report released by Arthritis Consumer Experts, the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada and Shoppers Drug Mart.

Canada's single-payer healthcare system is vastly different from that of the United States, not to mention differences between the two countries in terms of laws and regulations that govern pharmacy, but the lessons from the study apply equally to both.

September 6, 2013

CVS/pharmacy has kicked off the second half of its annual Project Health wellness campaign, which is slated to deliver more than $15 million worth of free health screenings to multicultural communities across the country by the end of the year.

While this campaign, known as Proyecto Salud in Spanish, isn’t exactly a new one for the pharmacy retailer that doesn’t take away from its importance. This campaign further illustrates the vital role that community pharmacy plays along the frontlines of U.S. healthcare and is especially timely given the fact that healthcare reform looms on the horizon.

September 6, 2013

MarketsandMarkets has projected the global market for mobile health apps and other products is expected to reach a value of nearly $21 billion in five years, according to a new report. That's some 3.5 times larger than today — MarketsandMarkets estimates health apps generate some $6.3 billion today. That's also a lot of consumer/patients interested in getting a better handle on their own care — and that spells opportunity for pharmacy operators.

The truth is, these could be very conservative figures. Both smartphone and tablet penetration is on a steep incline across the world, leading to more app downloads. And the baby boomer generation — tech savvy most of them — aren't getting any younger. And that leads to more health and wellness downloads.

August 26, 2013

The collaboration between Community Health Network and Walgreens' Healthcare Clinic is officially underway as of last week, the companies announced. It's just one manifestation of how retail clinics and the pharmacies that house them will contribute to making health care more cost-efficient in the years ahead through coordinated care vetted by improved outcomes.

In fact, 2014 will be the year of the retail clinic. The collaboration dovetails nicely with Walgreens' plans to significantly expand the scope of care found at Healthcare Clinic that president and CEO Greg Wasson talked about at the company's last quarterly conference call. "These new services include diagnosis, treatment and management for hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and asthma, as well as additional preventive health services," he said.

August 26, 2013

To help battle the national prescription drug abuse epidemic in the country, CVS Caremark embarked on a program whereby it tapped its extensive database to identify and halt inappropriate prescribing of high-risk drugs.

The reality is that drug stores have been caught in the middle of the nation's prescription drug abuse epidemic, and CVS Caremark’s efforts are an example of the larger role that retail pharmacy can play.

August 26, 2013

Peapod is opening nine new pickup locations at Stop & Shop stores around Massachusetts and Rhode Island as part of an expansion push in New England, bringing its total number of sites in those states and Connecticut to 27.

The way Americans shop for groceries is undergoing a rapid and dramatic change. Supermarkets will likely continue to exist for a long time, but a growing amount of shopping for food is happening online.

August 19, 2013

In a segment of CNBC's "Mad Money" program, host Jim Cramer proclaimed "Rite Aid is back" when a caller asked for the former hedge fund manager's opinion about the Camp Hill, Pa.-based retail pharmacy chain. "Rite Aid is good. … It is an okay situation. The group is strong," Cramer said.

Cramer's proclamation only confirmed what Drug Store News has been saying for a while now, ever since it became clear that Rite Aid had hit pay dirt with its Wellness+ loyalty card program, growing sales and reversing several years of annual and quarterly losses. In April 2013, the company posted its first profitable fiscal year since 2007.

August 19, 2013

After failing to gain enough support in a California Assembly, a revised bill that allows nurse practitioners to operate independently only in a hospital, clinic or other group setting regained some of its momentum and advanced in the Assembly.

With the introduction of Senate Bill 941, as well as proposed legislation that is currently pending in several other states, it is clear that lawmakers are increasingly recognizing the vital role that nurse practitioners play. They are also realizing that expanding nurse practitioners’ scope of practice will only become increasingly important as millions of uninsured Americans come into the insurance fold come 2014 due to health reform amid a growing shortage of primary care physicians.

August 19, 2013

Walgreens last week made several executive moves to boost its Daily Living business organization, chief of which was the announcement that Alex Gourlay will make the transition from chief executive of Alliance Boots' health and beauty division to EVP, president of customer experience and daily living for Walgreens. http://www.drugstorenews.com/article/walgreens-announces-enhanced-daily-...

Gorley will fill in the vision and leadership hole Joe Magnacca left when he departed Walgreens to take on challenge of reinventing Radio Shack. The move showcases the kind of extended depth chart that is now enjoyed across Walgreens and Alliance Boots and takes Walgreens' strategy of tapping the best executives to fill strategic positions to a whole new global level.

August 5, 2013

Ahold USA is encouraging its pharmacists to be more proactive and form closer relationships with their patients with the launch of ACT!, a program that stands for “Acknowledge,” “Coach” and “Thank.”

Why is this important? Ahold is a pharmacy retailer to watch. Notice that DSN didn't say "supermarket pharmacy retailer"?

August 5, 2013

Express Scripts and Walgreens last week announced the launch of Smart90 Walgreens, a new option for Express Scripts clients interested in 90-day prescription drug programs and to help drive lower costs. The program is expected to improve medication adherence by both providing a cost value to the patient while maintaining what has more and more become a crucial patient-pharmacist face-to-face encounter.

What a difference a year makes. Far removed from its squabbles over reimubursement, the two companies partner on a new program that reinforces the value that retail pharmacy provides and the innovative ways that retail and mail can work together to create solutions that help get patients on, and keep them on, their medications.

August 5, 2013

When Seattle-based Bartell Drugs opened its 61st store in the city's rapidly growing South Lake Union neighborhood, it unveiled a store that included not only a nice new format, but also a variety of amenities rarely seen in drug stores, including cold beer on tap; such pet-friendly features as water bowls, pet-hitching posts and free dog biscuits; and a selection of local spirits.

The large-scale evolution of the American drug store has mostly happened in the big, national chains, and despite some doubts from naysayers about some of the concepts in the Walgreens flagship stores, that format has already expanded to several cities. CVS and Rite Aid have expanded their respective Urban Cluster and Wellness store formats as well, providing clear indication of their popularity with consumers.

July 29, 2013

Walgreens and Duane Reade are testing a new mobile shopping system at stores in New York that help shoppers make choices by providing relevant product information from a network of friends and experts and then sending them "perks" they can redeem at checkout. The system combines the respective mobile platforms of Pretty in my Pocket and Sparkfly, and L'Oreal Paris has signed on as the first brand partner.

As retail industry futurist Doug Stephens recently told Drug Store News in an interview for an article in the Aug. 12 issue of the magazine about the future of retail pharmacy, younger consumers are "conditioned to understand that they can have whatever they want, whenever they want it, wherever they happen to be."

July 29, 2013

Research published last week in JAMA Pediatrics found that many parents are turning to retail-based health clinics when their children suffer from minor ailments largely because the clinics are convenient.

Parents are turning to clinics for their children’s minor ailments NOT because they lack an established relationship with a pediatrician but because of convenience. In fact, most of the parents surveyed (74%) had first considered going to the pediatrician but instead opted for a retail-based health clinic because the clinic had more convenient hours or because their doctor didn’t have an appointment available.

July 29, 2013

The evolution of services now available at retail pharmacy has gained traction with news organizations targeting the investment community. CNNMoney recently spoke at length with one of the retail pharmacy change catalysts — Greg Wasson of Walgreens.

Wasson and other retail pharmacy operators have been blazing a new pathway to cheaper and more convenient health care for some time now. Inoculations and medication therapy management programs were ever only the beginning, because the future of retail pharmacy is in successfully managing lives with a healthcare system partner. "There's an opportunity for the pharmacist to play a much greater role in health care, especially with what we have going on in this country with the shortage of primary-care physicians," Wasson explained to CNNMoney. "Plus, we can also involve the front of our store, being the first source for health and daily living, continuing to make sure we're relevant in today's society."

July 22, 2013

Cardinal Health and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation are calling for proposals to research the effects of pharmacist-provided medication therapy management services on hospital readmission rates.

Medications only do their jobs if patients take them as instructed by physicians, but physicians' ability to ensure that patients are doing what they're supposed to is limited. That's where pharmacists can step in to help make a difference.

July 22, 2013

CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic is striving to help patients lose weight and live healthier lives via a new weight-loss program that incorporates the DASH diet.

The move is important as it further illustrates the increased focus among retail-based health clinics to move beyond acute care. Many retail clinic operators have already started migrating toward expanded services, including weight-loss, smoking-cessation and fitness programs. For example, RediClinic has its Weigh Forward weight management program and Lindora, which operates a handful of clinics within select Rite Aid stores, began as a weight-loss clinic first and evolved into acute care later.


July 22, 2013

Walgreens Infusion Services partners with a regional health care plan operator to better serve specialty infusion patients. Because alternate treatment sites represent a less-expensive care option, the possible savings that can be realized through this program falls between 30% and 70%, depending on the medication regimen, according to a Walgreens industry analysis.

Would you like to pay one-third, or even more than two-thirds, less on your healthcare? Of course you would. But allocating additional points-of-care, including home delivery, so that the care is better accessible and more convenient in an environment without as much overhead? That's just not paying less. That's paying less and getting more.

July 15, 2013

Family Dollar Stores on Wednesday named Jason Reiser to the position of SVP merchandising where he will have executive responsibility for the company’s health, beauty, personal care and household teams. Reiser comes to Family Dollar from Sam’s Club, where he spent more than 17 years in a variety of roles, most recently serving as VP merchandising, health and family care.

Jason Reiser is one of the brightest young merchandising executives in this industry and has proven a knack for making health and wellness relevant and exciting to shoppers in alternative channels — Reiser was instrumental in developing and implementing Sam's Club's three-pillar strategy around Awareness, Prevention and Solutions. Expect Reiser to bring some innovation in the way health and wellness is sold in a dollar store environment.

July 15, 2013

Loblaw Cos. and Shoppers Drug Mart signed a definitive agreement under which Loblaw will acquire Shoppers Drug Mart. The move follows the acquisition of Safeway Canada by Sobey's last month and a growing incursion of U.S. retail north of the border, including both Target Canada and Walmart Canada.

When Loblaw announced last week it would debut a new health-focused format to take on Whole Foods, no one could have expected it would make a deal to become the No. 1 pharmacy retailer in Canada, leapfrogging from No. 8 to that top spot with the stroke of a pen. Together the companies will operate 1,797 pharmacies across a total of 2,348 locations, meaning 1-in-5 Canadian pharmacies now will be operated by the merged company. Shoppers Drug Mart represents $4.9 billion in annual pharmacy sales, representing 47.3% of sales and $3.9 million in pharmacy sales on a per store basis. And if Loblaw's pharmacy sales are brought up to that level, the merged companies will represent $6.8 billion in pharmacy revenue.