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As Cardinal Health gets bigger, focus on independent operator intensifies

BY Alaric DeArment

SEATTLE — As Cardinal Health has grown into the healthcare services powerhouse it is today — No. 19 on the Fortune 500 list, with annual sales topping $108 billion, and an integral linchpin of the nation’s healthcare supply chain — the company has maintained a strong focus on serving and expanding its reach among independent pharmacy operators. That commitment has only been heightened in recent years by three key acquisitions: Borschow Hospital and Medical Supplies in 2008 (Borschow formally changed its name to Cardinal Health Puerto Rico in November 2012), Kinray Inc., in 2010, and Dik Drug in 2012. Together, these deals brought more than 2,500 new independent customers into the Cardinal Health universe.

But even as Cardinal Health has grown, it has remained laser-focused on providing all of its customers with cutting-edge offerings and solutions that enable them to compete against the large national chains. It has remained equally committed to helping its customers maintain and leverage their own identity. Having Cardinal Health as a partner has been a boon for Borschow’s customers, Cardinal Health SVP and general manager for Puerto Rico Debbie Weitzman told DSN. “One thing welcomed by Borschow customers is access to Leader brand products,” she said. “In Puerto Rico, as in the United States, community pharmacies have a lot of competition from national chains, and now they have a private label they can call their own with competitive pricing, attractive packaging and quality.”

This year, Cardinal Health Puerto Rico expects nearly 60 customers at the RBC show in Seattle, with a total of 130 participants from the island. That’s a pretty big commitment in time and travel — a 12 hour trip from Puerto Rico to Seattle — but the Borschow contingent plans to make the most of their time, as they always do, Weitzman said. “On the Cardinal [Health] internal website last year, when they put up the photos from RBC, out of 40 pictures, clients from Puerto Rico were in 32 of them.”

However, the isolation from the U.S. mainland creates challenges beyond travel.

For one, while Puerto Rico is subject to federal laws, its Medicaid system and reimbursement structure work differently and can present challenges. Shipping also can be an issue as longer distances add to costs, and inclement weather and other obstacles can delay the arrival of shipments. “We have a significantly higher cost of doing business, [and] reimbursements are less,” Weitzman said, “Obviously, that creates much slimmer margins for our clients to operate.”

Since becoming part of Cardinal Health, the company has been working to ensure that customers in Puerto Rico have access to the same services as their mainland counterparts. One new service Cardinal Health is rolling out to its customers in Puerto Rico is its Order Express online ordering system, which Cardinal Health first introduced a few years ago. Order Express will be available to customers there beginning in September. “Now, there’s very little difference between a client in Puerto Rico and a client in the United States in terms of what Cardinal Health offers,” Weitzman said.

As Cardinal Health works to bring its offerings and solutions to its customers and broaden its reach among independent pharmacists, helping them leverage the identity and strength of their own individual brands has remained a major focus. According to Cardinal Health SVP and general manager for Kinray Inc, Steve Mason, Kinray customers will have the opportunity to take advantage of all the benefits RBC 2013 provides. “We’re all about helping the independent pharmacy market themselves, brand themselves and build their business, and we offer them the tools and services to help them do that,” Mason said.

The acquisitions have made this a lot easier for Cardinal Health. “You look at Kinray; you look at Dik; and you look at Borschow — these have all been acquisitions that reinforce that we are very committed to the retail independent market and keeping them independent,” Mason said.

As for the RBC show itself, Mason touted the many educational and business opportunities for independents.

“It’s a great place to be able to network with peers across the country,” Mason said. “It’s got an outstanding offering of continuing education courses. And then, very importantly, it’s a forum in which they can learn about our solutions that empower them to run an operation that’s efficient, while maximizing profitability.”

Another purpose is to provide networking opportunities.

“I’ve been going to RBC since the early ’90s, and a lot of these pharmacists, they come every year, and they get to know someone from one year, and then they keep in touch throughout the year, and they meet up at RBC [every year],” Mason said. “You develop relationships [that last throughout] the years.”

For more details on Cardinal Health RBC 2013, including the complete program agenda, visit cardinalhealth.com/rbc.

And to keep up with all the news from Cardinal Health RBC 2013, visit DrugStoreNews.com/Cardinal-Health-Retail-Business-Conference-2013.


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Cardinal Health invites independent pharmacy owners to ‘discover new horizons’ at RBC 2013

BY Michael Johnsen

SEATTLE — Seattle is about to get its “healthy” on.

Thousands of independent pharmacists will converge upon the Emerald City for Cardinal Health’s annual Retail Business Conference from Aug. 7 to 10, and this year’s event will showcase the broad array of solutions Cardinal Health provides that help community pharmacies diversify revenue, expand market share, improve their overall business operations and improve patient care.

This year’s conference will feature the largest trade-show floor and the most exhibitors in the 23-history of RBC, Steve Lawrence, SVP retail independent sales at Cardinal Health, told DSN, with a 95,000-sq.-ft. exhibit floor and more than 330 vendors, creating a myriad of unique buying opportunities for Cardinal Health customers. RBC also will provide important networking opportunities, bringing together independent pharmacy operators from all across the country — including a large contingent of former Borschow customers from Puerto Rico — and one of the most comprehensive live, continuing education programs in the industry, with 55 courses planned in all, ranging from clinical to business operations.

“RBC is the industry’s best opportunity for independent pharmacy owners to discover new opportunities for moving their businesses forward and exceeding patient needs and expectations,” Lawrence said. “RBC is one of the largest gatherings of independent pharmacy owners in the world, offering more continuing education classes than can be found anywhere else [and] the largest trade-show floor and the most exhibitors in the show’s 23-year history. It’s a great opportunity for independent pharmacies to learn from their peers and gain valuable insight into how to improve their businesses while enjoying top-notch fun and entertainment with their families.”

With CE sessions accredited for both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, the educational lineup for RBC 2013, includes —

  • APhA Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery;
  • Delivering Medication Therapy Management Services;
  • Profit Mastery: Measuring and Managing Profitability to Improve Financial Performance;
  • Fighting the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic: It Takes a Community;
  • Updates in Infectious Diseases – Focus on Community-Acquired Infections;
  • Pharmacy Security: A Layered Approach;
  • Integration of the Pharmacy Student – Preceptor Training Hints;
  • American Heart Association Basic Life Support Certification.

As in years past, RBC 2013 also will feature thought-provoking business sessions, including a keynote presentation on Friday Aug. 9 from former U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator and Food and Drug Administration commissioner Mark McClellan, who will discuss the important role community pharmacy will play in healthcare reform.

Kicking things off Aug. 8, Chris Gardner, entrepreneur, author, philanthropist and single parent whose life story inspired the best-selling autobiography and award-winning film, "The Pursuit of Happyness,” will anchor the opening session lineup. Completely in line with the conference’s “Discover New Horizons” theme, Gardner — a single parent who pulled himself out of homelessness to become the founder of the brokerage firm Gardner Rich — will share his wisdom and practical guidance to encourage attendees to achieve their full potential, pursue new challenges, search for fulfillment at any stage of life and craft the legacy they want to leave behind.

RBC 2013 also will host top-flight entertainment, including comedians Ryan Hamilton (from TV’s “Last Comic Standing” and “Conan”) and Tom Cotter (from “America’s Got Talent” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”) on Aug. 8; Customer Appreciation Night, including Cardinal Heath Fan Fest and a night at the ballpark for a Seattle Mariners home game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Safeco Field, will be held on Aug. 9; and Grammy-winning musical artists Huey Lewis & The News will perform Aug. 10 during the big Final Night Celebration.

For more details on Cardinal Health RBC 2013, including the complete program agenda, visit cardinalhealth.com/rbc.

To keep up with all the news from Cardinal Health RBC 2013, visit DrugStoreNews.com/Cardinal-Health-Retail-Business-Conference-2013.


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Giant-Carlisle rolls out new design to Bensalem, Pa., store

BY Alaric DeArment

CARLISLE, Pa. — A newly remodeled Giant Food Stores location includes an expanded selection of gluten-free items and digital kiosks for finding savings and placing orders.

Carlilsle, Pa.-based Giant, also known as Giant-Carlisle to distinguish it from Giant Food of Landover, Md., announced that it had finished remodeling its Bensalem, Pa., store. Both chains are owned by Ahold USA.

The Shopping Solutions kiosks allow customers to use an interactive touch screen to check BonusCard savings offers, print coupons, find items, look up recipes and place deli and party tray orders.

Meanwhile, the gluten-free area of the Nature’s Promise Marketplace section has been expanded to 16 ft. The section includes more than 2,500 frozen, dairy, grocery and special diet selections.

 

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