Appreciating pharmacy’s advancement

BY Steve Anderson

One of the greatest frustrations that one can encounter is the sense of not being heard or understood. So, understandably, pharmacy was extremely frustrated in past years.

For a long time, pharmacy was performing a vital role in patient care, but without a corresponding level of appreciation from the government and from the healthcare community.

When I started as president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores in 2007, I often heard from NACDS members and allies that the profession and the industry had to stop “talking to itself” and “preaching to the choir,” and had to be more proactive in communicating pharmacy’s value externally.

Studies validated that point. In 2007, NACDS conducted opinion research among policy-makers, opinion leaders and other influential audiences. It showed that respondents really liked their pharmacies, but had not thought much about pharmacies as part of healthcare delivery. Unfortunately, the treatment — or mistreatment — of pharmacy in public policy reflected that sentiment.

A lot has happened since then. Some of it has flowed from external forces, and much of it has flowed from pharmacy’s proactive stance. Here are just a few examples:

  • Any discussion of pharmacy advancement starts with pharmacies themselves. NACDS members have transformed their stores into healthcare destinations and expanded the services they offer;
  • Pharmacies proved their accessibility, capacity and capability — particularly in the minds of public health officials — when they emerged as strategic vaccination partners in the face of influenza outbreaks, including H1N1;
  • The healthcare reform debate created a venue for pharmacy to make its pitch for the value that it provides. In addition, it became clear that the rollout of the Affordable Care Act required assistance from pharmacies, who are considered by patients to be "go-to” information sources;
  • NACDS launched and sustained its communications and advocacy theme: “Pharmacies. The face of neighborhood healthcare”;
  • The pipeline of research has yielded proof of what pharmacy has been saying for years. Research regarding benefits of medication adherence — and pharmacy’s ability to foster it — is appearing consistently in peer-reviewed journals, and in policy statements of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Congressional Budget Office;
  • The mainstream media have increased their reporting of new pharmacy services, particularly in the face of mounting healthcare access challenges; and
  • Pharmacies have become more engaged in grassroots advocacy. NACDS members hosted 118 pharmacy tours and other events for members of Congress in 2013, and have already hosted 103 events in 2014.

We’ve come a long way. Legislation was introduced this year in the U.S. House of Representatives to designate pharmacists as healthcare providers under Medicare Part B, to assist underserved communities. The legislation would enable pharmacists to provide vaccinations, diabetes screenings and self-management education, cardiovascular screenings and more to Medicare patients — as allowed by state laws. An online survey in July of likely voters who are informed and engaged when it comes to current events found that 79% of respondents favor the legislation. The survey, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and commissioned by NACDS, also found bipartisan support with 85% of Democrats and 76% of Republicans backing it. This reflects the bill’s current co-sponsorship, with 50 Democrats and 44 Republicans cosponsoring it in the House.

Looking back over how far we have come, one could argue that it is time for pharmacy to focus on internal communications again. However, instead of “preaching to the choir,” the message would be one of thanks — for the industry’s great work that has elevated pharmacy’s status and appreciation.

Much work lies ahead to achieve pharmacy’s potential. However, doing that work will be much more rewarding than enduring past frustrations. It also will be much more productive for the patients whom this amazing industry serves.

Steve Anderson, IOM, CAE, is president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.


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Retailers take advantage of iBeacon

BY Dan Berthiaume

iBeacon technology, the Apple iOS 7 feature that helps mobile devices track their position relative to stationary beacons by using low-frequency Bluetooth transmissions, is getting quite a bit of attention from retailers.

Grabbing their interest is not only that devices can obtain individualized information from beacons, but also that beacons can obtain individualized information from mobile devices.

Placed in stores, iBeacons also can tell retailers quite a bit about who is shopping and what they are looking for. Here are five retail chains who have taken advantage of iBeacon with pilots and rollouts so far in 2014.

Duane Reade
In May, Duane Reade placed iBeacon in its Duane Reade mobile app and launched a 10-store pilot in the New York market. The iBeacon technology pilot is part of an in-store mobile coupon initiative at Duane Reade that enables shoppers to digitally clip coupons and redeem them via a bar code on a smartphone.

The inclusion of this technology to the Duane Reade app adds such features as lock screen notifications when initially approaching a select Duane Reade store location, coupon offers based on historical data and product reviews for timely content at the point of decision. Other features include scanner options that allow for instant product scans revealing detailed item information; mobile coupon clipping for immediate redemption at POS, facilitating a seamless value-added experience via Balance Rewards; and instant Instagram 4-by-4-in. prints directly to a Duane Reade location.

Safeway and Giant Eagle
The Safeway and Giant Eagle grocery chains are both rolling out the inMarket Mobile to Mortar iBeacon location-sensing platform at more than 150 grocery stores in Seattle, San Francisco, and Cleveland, with additional retailers and markets launching in the coming months. As inMarket rolls out its iBeacon network, it will provide shoppers with features including custom coupons, loyalty rewards and grocery list reminders. For example, shoppers who opt-in can be reminded of items a spouse just placed on their shared list, earn loyalty rewards or be directed to a custom special offer.

American Eagle
American Eagle Outfitters is launching the ShopKick ShopBeacon iBeacon solution in 100 top-performing American Eagle Outfitters and Aerie stores across the country. ShopBeacon is an Apple iBeacon-based presence signal for retailers that offers customers rewards, in a currency called “kicks,” for a variety of actions they take as they go about shopping.

As shoppers enter an American Eagle Outfitters store, ShopBeacon will welcome and show them location-specific rewards, deals, discounts and product recommendations without them even having to remember to open the app. It also can tie at-home browsing behavior to in-store benefits; if the customer “likes” a specific product online, if they so choose, ShopBeacon can remind them where in the American Eagle Outfitters store that product is sold.

Chico’s FAS
Chico’s FAS is reportedly building a mobile shopping app for the iOS and Android platforms. According to the Wall Street Journal, the app will integrate with iBeacon location sensors on shelves.

This app, in pilot testing as of February 2014, would reportedly use iBeacons to notify customers who have opted in when they are near items that fit their purchase history. Associates would then use iPads to update the customer’s history.


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NYC’s former ‘top cop’ to keynote DSN Industry Issues Summit

BY Rob Eder

NEW YORK — Former New York police commissioner Raymond Kelly will be the featured keynote lunch speaker at the 16th annual Drug Store News Industry Issues Summit on Dec. 2 at the New York Athletic Club.

The longest-serving police commissioner in New York City history and the first to serve two separate tenures as the city’s top cop, Kelly will share with Issues Summit attendees his experiences from leading one of the largest police departments in the world. Kelly is widely credited for creating the country’s first municipal police department counterterrorism bureau and establishing a global intelligence program with New York City detectives in 11 foreign cities.

At the same time, Kelly also led the NYPD in decreasing violent crime by 40% from 2001 levels. In addition, Kelly introduced new big data capabilities to the department, creating the Real Time Crime Center, which mined millions of records to identify investigative leads for New York detectives.

Kelly is the “headliner” for what is gearing up to be another blockbuster Industry Issues Summit conference for Drug Store News. The event, now in its 16th year, features exclusive retailer roundtable discussions around three critical areas of the business — emerging new healthcare technologies; diabetes and chronic care; and driving  front-end growth.

An impressive lineup of retail companies has signed on for the Dec. 2 conference, including Walgreens, CVS Caremark, Rite Aid, Costco, Target, Sam’s Club, Ahold, Family Dollar, Thrifty White, Cardinal Health, Winn-Dixie, Good Neighbor Pharmacy, Shopko and more.

“The annual Issues Summit is a mainstay event every year during New York Industry Week,” said DSN publisher Wayne Bennett. “People who attend Issues Summit gain valuable insights from the leading retail executives in our industry about how to align strategic imperatives with high-growth results. The meeting also provides an intimate setting for great industry networking and leadership connectivity. “

The full-day event includes three separate roundtable discussions:  the Health, Wellness and Technology Summit; the Diabetes and Chronic Care Roundtable; and the Industry
Issues Summit.

The conference also provides attendees with networking opportunities, a chance to develop stronger relationships with key industry stakeholders, valuable insights and strategies to grow the business, and an important look at trends.

For more information, including registration and sponsorship, visit


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