April 19, 2013

One-third of supermarkets have a dietitian walking their aisles, according to a recent report published by Advertising Age. And almost 9-in-10 grocers have a dietitian housed in their corporate suites.

Is it any wonder? There's a natural synergy between pharmacy and food stores that grocers have been looking to tap in one form or another over the past decade. But now, especially as health systems and large employers become more savvy around the benefits a healthier workforce will have to their bottom lines, this is likely to transform from a supermarket patient's best-kept-secret into a must-have service.

April 19, 2013

President Barack Obama sent his $3.8 trillion budget proposal to Congress on April 10, and the plan includes a number of provisions designed to cut spending on health care and promote health and wellness.

Overall, the budget is something of a mixed bag for the healthcare industry. While it would provide incentives for expanding the use of generic drugs, for example, it would also cut spending on Medicaid that have drawn opposition from pharmacy retailers, and even generic drug makers disagree with some of its provisions for that industry.

April 12, 2013

Rite Aid reported a $123.1 million profit for fourth quarter 2013 and $118.1 million for the fiscal year - its first profitable year since 2007 - amid greater generic drug penetration and retention of at least three-quarters of the customers who switched over to the chain during the dispute between Walgreens and pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, among other factors.

In other words, the factors that helped fuel the nearly $62 million profit the company reported in third quarter 2013 have continued to hold, which means the 4,623-store chain has put itself on track for strong future growth, which will no doubt be helped along by the debt refinancing the company finished in February.

April 12, 2013

A new Kalorama Information report found that most patients — 91% — who had used a retail clinic were either satisfied or very satisfied with their visit.

The findings are in line with prior studies, which have long been reported by Drug Store News, and are yet further evidence that retail clinics are playing a vital role in the U.S. healthcare system.

April 12, 2013

Walgreens released a research article on how health care focused on outcomes could really contribute to lowering healthcare costs. The idea is that by improving individual patient experience, improving the health of the overall patient population and reducing the per capita cost of health care, you can realize better patient outcomes out of invested health resources.

If you take a real close look at what core competencies are necessary to better realize success in that approach, it becomes evident that retail pharmacy is an ideal setting for the process.

April 5, 2013

Retail clinic operator Take Care Clinics, which is owned by Walgreens, is expanding the scope of services within its 300-plus clinics to include management for chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma and others, as well as additional preventive health services.

Game on! With the increasing shift to chronic care services, expect retail clinics to ramp up even quicker, creating new, more profitable revenue streams and filling huge gaps in care that save payers some serious money. The writing isn't just on the wall. It's printed in big, bold colors like graffiti on a 1970s NYC subway car.

April 5, 2013

Geoscape issued a report projecting the future buying power of both Asian and Hispanic households, respectively.

This report should serve as a wake up call that multi-cultural marketing efforts appealing to the diversity of a shopper base are not just innovative strategies — they're essential.

April 5, 2013

Empty shelves at Walmart are getting a lot of attention these days, but the situation isn’t new and can’t be blamed entirely on store staffing levels.

Reports in Bloomberg and The New York Times have both detailed Walmart’s shortcoming when it comes to keeping products on shelves. And both reached the same conclusion that the issue is related to a reduction in staffing levels. It is a convenient and easily understood explanation because if there are fewer associates working there is less time available to perform the essential functions of running a retail business, namely keeping shelves stocked and accepting payment from customers.

March 29, 2013

Three bills that were introduced in California would recognize pharmacists as healthcare providers and would enable pharmacists, nurse practitioners and optometrists to practice to the full extent of their education and training.

The reality is that industry observers can expect to see more states considering similar measures as they all prepare a roadmap to lower costs by allowing pharmacists and NPs to practice at the top of their professions.

March 29, 2013

A representative and a senator, both Republicans, recently introduced legislation that would repeal restrictions on health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 that prohibit the use of HSA and FSA account dollars for the purchase of over-the-counter drugs without a prescription.

One of the sponsors of the Family Health Care Flexibility Act, Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska, called the restrictions "government overreach and interference." But they're more than that: They're simply wasteful. The whole point of healthcare reform is to expand access to health care while reducing cost, and requiring an expensive and time-consuming doctor visit to get a prescription for an OTC drug fails at both goals.

March 29, 2013

Google has officially unveiled its testing program for Google Shopping Express, its new online delivery service in the San Francisco Bay area, signing up with retailers like Target, Walgreens and Raley's to allow customers to receive items directly from store shelves at their homes within a day.

The program has been widely described as an effort by Google to compete with e-commerce giant Amazon, but what sets Google Shopping Express apart is its sourcing partnership with brick-and-mortar retailers, particularly Target, which itself has made significant investments in omnichannel retail, most recently with its purchases of two online cooking-equipment retailers. As a whole slew of developments over the past couple of weeks has shown, omnichannel is becoming a key component of many retailers' business.

March 22, 2013

Google is dogfooding a service called Google Shopping Express, which would offer same-day delivery from brick-and-mortar stores in the San Francisco Bay Area to the Internet giant's employees. Target and several other retailers have been named as possible partners.

With Google now looking to compete with Amazon — not to mention Target's growing attention to online and mobile commerce — a growing body of consumer studies and industry trends shows that the most important emerging consumer demographic isn't men, women, old people or young people — but multichannel consumers.

March 22, 2013

TreatMyUTI.com is an online service founded by a group of physicians that offers online access to physician diagnosis and treatment of uncomplicated urinary tract infections with no office visit, exam or lab test required.

This is important because it speaks to a much larger trend within health care, and that’s the continued rise of telehealth-type services as patients and providers increasingly battle a crisis of access and affordability of health care.

March 22, 2013

Walgreens and Alliance Boots entered into a 10-year contract with wholesaler AmerisourceBergen on sourcing pharmaceuticals last week. But that's not all. Besides the long-term contract, Walgreens and Alliance Boots will have the option on a potential 23% equity stake in ABC in three years.

The deal takes pharmaceutical buying leverage to the stratosphere and changes the face of more than one health service industry. As Adam Fein, president of Pembroke Consulting, noted in a live television interview on Fox Business' "Money With Melissa Francis": "Three of the largest companies in the pharmaceutical industry have come together and built the single largest buyer of prescription drugs in the world," he said.

March 15, 2013

Hundreds of community pharmacy executives, pharmacy students and other pharmacy advocates representing 41,000 chain pharmacies took to Capitol Hill last week for the 5th Annual NACDS RxImpact Day and conducted more than 400 meetings with U.S. senators and representatives.

With implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2014, Congress desperately needs to hear from a stakeholder that can actually save the system money. There is growing awareness on the Hill that for every $1 invested in MTM, you save $10 to $12 — the bill introduced this week by Sens. Pat Roberts and Kay Hagan to expand MTM is a strong demonstration of that.

March 15, 2013

The OTC industry is well-positioned to seize opportunities across the self-care space, executives at the recent Consumer Healthcare Products Association Annual Executive Conference shared with attendees. Those opportunities will be driven by greater consumer engagement and the growing realization around how much healthcare value can be drawn from expanding OTC access.

That sets the stage for some pretty favorable growth across a $38.3 billion industry. According to an Edelman in Health survey, use of over-the-counter medicines is already prevalent among Americans — almost 85% of Americans reported regular use of an OTC remedy. Convenience, efficacy and value were three of the key factors behind that prevalence, as noted in a special report compiled by DSN.

March 15, 2013

MinuteClinic president and SVP/associate chief medical officer of CVS Caremark, Andrew Sussman, attended two separate healthcare events in London last week to discuss how MinuteClinic is improving care and access at substantially lower cost.

This is important because, regardless of whether a country has universal healthcare or not, someone has to pay for it and accessibility can still be an issue. Interestingly, a British supermarket began testing the concept of an in-store physician-staffed clinic back in 2008 in an effort to improve access. 
A key reason: Its supermarkets are often situated in a convenient location with public transport links and ample parking.

March 8, 2013

OutcomesMTM, a medication therapy management delivery system, last week recognized its top chain and independent pharmacies for 2012. Walgreens and Kerr Drug were named top large pharmacy chain and top regional pharmacy chain, respectively.

MTM matters, and people are keeping score. And it's something you can expect to see more of in the age of accountable care and star-based quality ratings.

March 8, 2013

The number of Americans who want technology to play a role in their healthcare is growing, as up to 64% of Americans use online health resources, and 40% use them to self-diagnose, according to a new survey conducted by the Atlantic and GlaxoSmithKline. Yet while 94% of those using online resources consider them important to their health, only 12% report contacting doctors via email or text message regarding a health question.

The Atlantic-GSK survey and other surveys indicate that the group favoring online health information tends to skew younger.

March 8, 2013

Just about every healthcare practitioner recommends over-the-counter medicines to their patients. And nearly 3-out-of-4 make that OTC recommendation as the first therapy option, according to a recent survey released by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.

This is another proof point that OTC medicines play an important role in holding down cost.

March 1, 2013

Sears Holdings is adding some of its own fare to its mygofer.com offering, an online grocery service that "turbo-charges brick-and-mortar retailer assortments by allowing customers to get items from those stores where and when they want them in new, convenient ways."

"At mygofer, your list is our command," Sears tells shoppers on its website. "Shop with us for your prescriptions, groceries, beauty products, clothes, shoes, electronics and a whole lot more you might not expect. So whatever's on your list, we can help you get it — with incredible speed and no hassles. That's convenience."

March 1, 2013

Rite Aid announced Friday that it had expanded its "virtual clinic" model to additional markets, now offering NowClinic Online Care service in 58 stores.

Retail clinics are an area in which Rite Aid has not invested to the same degree as Walgreens and CVS, but NowClinic shows that there are more ways to offer clinical services in a retail pharmacy setting than building an actual clinic. In 2011, Rite Aid became the first to provide such virtual clinics in a retail pharmacy setting when it launched the program as a pilot in nine stores in Detroit.

March 1, 2013

Upon the closing of Supervalu's sale of five pharmacy banners to Albertsons LLC, long-time Supervalu vet Dan Salemi will assume the role of president of pharmacy at the new Albertsons LLC. Salemi will succeed Supervalu president pharmacy operations Chris Dimos, who will stay on board until the deal is done.

Albertsons LLC gets a very talented pharmacy executive to run its pharmacy business, no doubt, in Dan Salemi. And with more than three decades working across Supervalu's banners, he's well-versed in the nuances of the Supervalu pharmacy business in each market.

February 22, 2013

The YMCA is offering a demonstration project to show that its YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program — part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's broader National Diabetes Prevention Program — can lower the incidence of Type 2 diabetes and reduce medical costs incurred by Medicare. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation is funding the project, whereby YMCAs in 17 communities that deliver the program will offer it at no cost to 10,000 Medicare enrollees over the next three years, and the YMCA expects it to save Medicare $4.2 million over three years and $53 million over six years.

It's been said that, "It takes a village to raise a child," and because chronic disease is an issue that affects communities as a whole - not just individuals - it would make sense for community-based organizations to target a growing national health crisis like the diabetes epidemic.