Cardinal bolsters retail toolkit for Leader-brand independents
Cardinal’s SVP independent pharmacy sales: Tom DeGemmis
Corp. Offices: Dublin, Ohio
Number of Members/Stores: 3,400
Web page: www.myleader.com
If there’s an independent pharmacy in your market area with a Leader Pharmacy logo on the storefront — and with more than 3,400 Leader stores nationwide, chances are good that there’s one nearby — don’t be fooled by the store’s modest footprint or the folksy, mom-and-pop image it may project. The store’s owners have an arsenal of sophisticated business tools at their disposal, and the backing of an $87 billion, global health services and wholesaling giant.
Leader is the retail buying, marketing and merchandising arm of Cardinal Health. And with estimated annual sales of more than $13 billion, most of it in prescriptions and health-and-wellness products, the Leader brand constitutes one of the largest drug store networks in the United States.
The key, of course, is to create a national identity without sacrificing the local character and customer loyalty of each member pharmacy. With that in mind, Cardinal’s store-support teams and technology gurus have developed everything from highly sophisticated automated replenishment and pricing systems to exclusive branding programs and product lines in a bid to turn the Leader brand into a nationally recognized symbol of expanded, personalized pharmacy services. Among them:
- LeaderNET, a service that provides back-end managed-care resources to put Leader store owners on a more equal footing with pharmacy benefit managers and other third-party payers. The program provides contract-negotiating prowess and expertise, access to new niche markets, membership in a provider network and other services;
- An exclusive line of home healthcare and mobility products — along with marketing materials, in-store signage, catalogs and other tools — under the brand name TrustWorth;
- An outbound calling technology, unveiled last summer, to help pharmacies build relationships with customers. The so-called Abby system is a Web-based, interactive calling tool that allows retailers to notify patients when prescriptions are ready or need to be refilled, share information regarding special promotions and conduct customer surveys.
- New technology to help independents manage and build sales at the front of the store. Cardinal partnered with ECRS to offer the scanning and tracking system, which automatically re-orders front-of-store merchandise as it’s purchased, provides electronic order updates and confirmations, and provides profit analysis on products at the item level.
In the fall, Cardinal added another tool for independents: an Internet-based training program on better customer-service techniques. The program, called myPharmacyTrainer, is now available to Leader Pharmacy members nationwide.
MyPharmacyTrainer revolves around a proprietary online training site that features a series of interactive, virtual training sessions, each lasting less than 10 minutes and each teaching a different pharmacy-related lesson on such topics as managing chronic diseases or promoting private-label products to help patients save money. Using the training program, said Steve Lawrence, SVP marketing and sales support for Cardinal Health’s pharmaceutical supply chain business, can help independent pharmacy owners coach their employees to deliver better patient care, improve customer loyalty and boost sales, “with minimal time investment.”
Mike Kaufmann, Cardinal’s group president of healthcare supply chain services for pharmaceuticals, said Cardinal is “creating long-term partnerships” through its still-expanding Leader program “to help independent pharmacies attract new, loyal customers, drive efficiency and improve their financial performance.”
Addressing independent pharmacy owners at the company’s 2008 Retail Business Conference, Tom DeGemmis, Cardinal’s SVP independent pharmacy sales, said the wholesale and health services giant had “redefined Leader” based on an extensive effort to gauge the needs of the thousands of pharmacy operators in the network. “As a result, we’ve identified four key areas that can benefit independent pharmacies the most,” he said.
Those priorities, he said, include improving reimbursements for Leader owners through better third-party claims management and other initiatives; streamlining operations for better cost management; creating alternate revenue streams; and boosting market share.
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Rhode Island develops prescription savings program for residents
PROVIDENCE, R.I. Residents of Rhode Island can save an average 30% on prescription drugs using a card issued to them free of charge.
The card, RIRx, is similar to prescription drug cards issued in several states already through a non-profit program administered by United Networks of America. The cards are accepted at more than 54,000 national and regional pharmacies, according to the program’s Web site, www.FreeDrugCard.us.
The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce will seek to create awareness and distribute the cards.
“The cost of healthcare is a top concern for Rhode Island’s residents,” chamber president Laurie White stated. “With unemployment on the rise, due to the stalling economy, many individuals and families are finding themselves without health insurance.”
Anti-crime measures in Congress win strong endorsement from NACDS
WASHINGTON Congress is moving on two fronts to combat organized crime against pharmacies and other retailers, generating strong praise from chain pharmacy leaders.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores Friday issued a letter to Reps. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in support of their introduction of H.R. 1173, the Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009. The bill would define organized retail crime and expand fraud statutes to include the illegal use of gift cards, Universal Product Code labels, or radio identification transponders.
The Ellsworth-Jordan bill also recommends that the United States Sentencing Commission review and amend the sentencing guidelines for convicted organized retail crime offenders.
H.R. 1173 has gained bi-partisan backing from co-sponsors including Reps. Arthur Davis, an Alabama Democrat, and Republicans James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, John Kline of Minnesota and Mike Rogers of Michigan.
“This strong bipartisan legislation will help to stem the growing problem of organized retail crime, by providing much needed clarity within the U.S. criminal code to prosecute such criminal behavior as a federal felony, including facilitation of such illegal activities,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson told lawmakers in his letter Friday. “As you know, organized retail crime is responsible for over $30 billion in losses annually, resulting in increased costs for merchants, higher prices for consumers, and lost tax revenue for state and local governments. In addition to increased costs faced by retailers to cover losses and investment in additional security measures, consumers are placed at risk when package tampering occurs on consumer health care products, such as infant formula and OTC medications.”
NACDS, Anderson pointed out, “has long advocated for federal legislation that treats theft committed by organized, professional crime rings as a federal felony, especially since much of the stolen product is transported across state lines.”
Besides arming federal law enforcement officials with “the authority to pursue and prosecute individuals who engage in such criminal activities,” Anderson noted, the Ellsworth-Jordan bill “also targets criminals’ use of online marketplaces to sell the fruits of organized retail crime to unsuspecting consumers and establishes specific and narrow obligations for operators of online marketplaces.”
The chain pharmacy organization also endorsed H.R. 1166, the E-Fencing Enforcement Act of 2009. In a letter sent Friday to Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., who is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, Anderson thanked Scott for introducing the measure.
“Your legislation will help to stem the growing problem of the use of online marketplaces by criminals to redistribute stolen merchandise, including those obtained through organized retail crime,” Anderson told the lawmaker.
H.R. 1166 would prosecute the electronic fencing of stolen products, and empower retailers to seek relief against high-volume sellers who engage in the e-fencing of stolen merchandise.