PHARMACY

Digital health, wearables draw in-store customers

BY Lesley Thulin

Anne Marie Stephen and Deborah Weinswig presented an Insight Session on digital health on Monday.

DENVER — With the explosion of online shopping, consumers need more of an incentive to go to drug stores. Digital health and wearables have the potential to draw more in-store consumers, according to Deborah Weinswig, head of Global Retail and Technology, and Anne Marie Stephen, CEO and founder of Kwolia.

“I think people use drug stores as a place of influence — a place for advice — and I think that is a very different experience [from going into a department store]” Weinswig said. She and Kwolia presented an Insight Session called “Collision of Digital Health, the Consumer and Wearables” at NACDS Total Store Expo on Monday.

Technology can enhance in-store shopping for beauty and healthcare management products, according to Weinswig. Social shopping apps draw consumers to stores by allowing them to virtually engage with products. TryItOn, for example, lets consumers try on beauty products in stores.

“We think that the consumer wants to go in-store and have a great experience,” Weinswig said.

In addition to apps, wearable technology also could attract in-store consumers. Wearable devices can assist with medication adherence and physician-patient communication. “This is not something that’s going away,” Stephen said. “This is something that we should all be paying attention to.”

Wearables represent “big-ticket items” for drug stores, Weinswig said. “You’re going to start to be able to manage a lot of your health care on your wrist. And so, we’re going to see a real change in how people can take care of themselves.”

In order to effectively market these products, companies should target the “silver” generation, which represents high-income Americans ages 50 years and older, Weinswig said. Expected to expand markedly through 2020, this demographic has different spending patterns from millennials. “They’ve got money to spend, and the millennials don’t,” Weinswig said. “And every retailer that’s only focused on millennials — this is an issue.”

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PHARMACY

Genomics offers promise of precision medicine

BY Jim Frederick

DENVER — After years of research and billions of dollars in funding, the Human Genome Project has unlocked the complex mysteries of the human genome and unleashed a new era in personalized medicine and pharmaceutical research and development. And pharmacy retailers must get out in front of that gene-based drug revolution or risk being left behind.

So said two of the pharmacy profession’s thought leaders, Rebecca Chater, executive healthcare strategist at Ateb and former EVP in charge of Kerr Drug’s clinical services division, and Brad Tice, director of marketing and product management-performance and clinical outcomes for Cardinal Health, at an Insight Session Monday titled, “Precision Medicine: Integrating Genomics into Pharmacy Practice.” Both pharmacy leaders urged their colleagues to align their businesses and practice capabilities with the explosive health breakthrough potential offered by pharmacogenomics, also known as PGx.

The potential health benefits of PGx are huge, Chater said. So, too, is the field’s growth potential as an industry.

The reason: Basing a drug regimen on a particular patient’s distinct, individual genetic makeup can significantly increase the effectiveness of that therapy, avoid adverse drug reactions and lead to better outcomes for millions of patients by targeting medicines far more effectively. Indeed, Chater said, “Nearly 1 billion prescriptions annually could benefit from pharmacogenomics testing. When you look at [traditional] medication use, it’s been pretty much a shotgun approach,” with many patients failing to respond to a particular medicine — or even suffering negative effects — simply because of their genetic aversion to that medicine or their inability to respond. But with the precision patient therapy offered by genomics, she added, “there’s no reason we can’t get the right medicine, in the right dosage, to the right patient, every time.”

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PHARMACY

J.D. Power survey: Customers satisfied with pharmacies

BY David Salazar

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — J.D. Power’s 2015 U.S. Pharmacy Study was released Monday, and it highlights that patients remain satisfied with their pharmacies despite myriad changes to the healthcare landscape in recent years. The study ranks satisfaction on a scale of 1,000, and was conducted in May and June among almost 15,000 respondents. 
 
When it comes to supermarket pharmacies, customers showed a satisfaction level of 851, up from last year’s 843, and chain pharmacy satisfaction level was gauged at 842 — a two-point improvement over 2014. There were some drops in satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies, which dropped two points to 820, and with mass merchandiser pharmacies, which saw customer satisfaction go from 830 last year to 822 in 2015. 
 
“The healthcare industry has undergone tremendous changes in recent years, and more changes are coming, so stable customer satisfaction with pharmacies is very positive,” J.D. Power’s director of healthcare practice Rick Johnson said. “Pharmacies serve as a benchmark for other entities in the healthcare ecosystem, as they continue to have the highest levels of customer satisfaction in the healthcare industry, demonstrating that focusing on customer satisfaction is good for both patients and businesses.”
 
The study also offers some insights into pharmacy spending. In particular, it found that out-of-pocket spending by brick-and-mortar pharmacy customers rose by $1 over last year to $23, but mail-order out-of-pocket fees are down to $32 compared to $35 last year. 
 
J.D.Power also offers insights as to how health and wellness pharmacy services can grow a customer base, as 63% of customers who take advantage of these services “definitely will” recommend their pharmacy to a friend. Fifty-five percent of those who don’t use the services “definitely will” recommend their pharmacy to a friend. 
 
Among branded independent pharmacies, Good Neighbor Pharmacy ranked highest in the survey, with a customer satisfaction leve of 876. Trailing it are Health Mart pharmacies (871) and Medicine Shoppe pharmacies (861). Among mass merchandiser pharmacies, Target (858) outstripped Sam’s Club (847) and Meijer (842). When it comes to supermarket pharmacies, Wegman’s was highest ranked with a satisfaction level of 887, followed by Public (871) and H-E-B (866).

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