PHARMACY

Hamacher, HDMA report analyzes front end as profit driver for independent pharmacy

BY Michael Johnsen

WAUKESHA, Wis. — Over-the-counter products across the front-end are becoming a more and more important profit driver for independent pharmacy operators, Hamacher Resource Group and the Healthcare Distribution Management Association revealed Wednesday as part of new research titled "Independent Pharmacy Shoppers: Who, What, and Why?" The report places a spotlight on the independent pharmacy front-end customer and helps identify shopper behaviors, purchase preferences and potential barriers that stand in the way of further engagement with independents.

According to the 48-page report, as many as 73% of pharmacists surveyed reported their front-end businesses were either growing or holding steady. And according to the research, as the frequency of shopping trips increased, so did the corresponding percentages of OTC and personal care purchases. In other words, the more often an independent pharmacy patient visited the store, the more likely they were to walk out with an OTC or beauty-care item in their shopping bag each trip. "The average independent [made] 10 recommendations per day for OTCs," Dave Wendland, VP, told attendants to a webinar hosted by Hamacher and HDMA Wednesday afternoon.

To help maximize productivity of an OTC set within the independent setting, set planograms and point-of-purchase materials are a good starting point, Wendland suggested.

"Among all shoppers interviewed, those who spent approximately 15 minutes in the store made the most OTC purchases," the report noted. "Those who spent less than 15 minutes in the store made the most purchases of personal care products. The lesson to independent pharmacies is to ensure those 15 minutes are ‘productive’ time. For example, they could train staff to interact with customers by recommending companion purchases. The goal is to match the speed of front-end service with the speed of prescription transactions."

Even as OTC grows in importance for independent operators, the greater incursion of the dollar channel into health and beauty items has emerged as a direct competitive threat to independent pharmacies.

In addition to HDMA, "Independent Pharmacy Shoppers: Who, What, and Why?" was made possible through the sponsorships of AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, H. D. Smith, Johnson & Johnson Sales and Logistics Company, McKesson, Mutual Wholesale Drug Company, Novartis Consumer Health, Smith Drug Company and Value Drug Company.


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Study: Thrifty White’s Medication Synchronization Program improves Rx adherence

BY Antoinette Alexander

PLYMOUTH, Minn. — Regional player Thrifty White Pharmacy, which operates 90 pharmacies in the upper Midwest, is working to enroll patients in its Medication Synchronization Program as a recent study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University found that those patients taking their medications correctly with the program are more likely to stay well, make fewer clinic visits and require fewer hospitalizations, thus reducing overall healthcare spending.

“The number one problem of treating illness today is a patient’s failure to take prescription medications correctly, regardless of patient age.” stated Dave Rueter, EVP of human resources. “By synchronizing all your prescriptions patients are more adherent and compliant leading to healthier outcomes and healthier patients.”

Through the program, the pharmacy team works with the patient to synchronize all their maintenance medications so that all their prescriptions can be picked up at the pharmacy one time a month verses making multiple trips to the pharmacy. Ten days prior to their prescriptions being filled, the customer receives a call from the pharmacy to confirm the prescriptions to be filled and review any possible medication changes. On the prescription pickup day (appointment day) the pharmacist will review the prescription regimen, monitor changes from any doctor or hospital visits and check for any possible drug interactions.

For the study, data was collected over a 12-month period between 2011 and 2012. There were two arms of the study (Medication Synchronization and control group). Study patients were selected having at least two fills for one of six chronic medication classes.

The analysis indicated significant improvements in adherence and persistence for the Medication Synchronization patients when compared with the control patients for all the chronic medication classes. Depending on the drug class, patients enrolled in the program had 3.4 to 6.1 times greater odds of adherence as controls during the evaluation period, the study found.

Studies from The New England Health Institute estimate that non-adherence, along with improper medication management, results in $290 billion a year in avoidable medical spending on the healthcare system. Poor adherence often leads to preventable worsening of disease, posing serious and unnecessary health risks, particularly for patients with chronic diseases. An estimated one-third to one-half of all patients in the United States do not take their medications as prescribed by their doctors.


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Second Medication Adherence Team Challenge launched

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — A group of organizations has launched a nationwide competitive outreach project to enlist students studying to become healthcare professionals to find new ways to raise awareness about medication adherence as a public health issue.

Wednesday marked the launch of the second annual Medication Adherence Team Challenge, which will last for a month, coordinated by the National Consumers League and sponsored by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and the American Medical Association. The NCL is also the lead organization on the national Script Your Future campaign, for which the NCL and other partners have committed to a three-year program to promote medication adherence. It is estimated that three-quarters of Americans don’t take their medications as directed, resulting in serious health consequences, according to the NCL.

"The success of the first Script Your Future Adherence Challenge in October 2011 demonstrated the power of student pharmacists to reach out to their communities and engage patients and caregivers to improve health through better adherence," AACP EVP and CEO Lucinda Maine said. "This year’s challenge will emphasize the interprofessional healthcare team and what each member of that team needs to do to move the needle on medication adherence."

This year’s challenge will take place through February and engage interdisciplinary teams from pharmacy, medicine, nursing and other health professionals to address the problem of poor adherence.

"Innovative medication adherence initiatives, such as the challenge, ultimately help raise patient awareness of the importance of taking medication as prescribed," NACDS Foundation president Kathleen Jaeger said. "This kind of initiative can help prevent potential adverse events and unnecessary hospitalizations and ultimately improve health outcomes."

In October 2011, more than 40,000 student pharmacists educated more than 250,000 individuals nationwide that month to raise public awareness of the importance of adherence.

"Greater medication adherence improves patients’ well-being and ultimately helps to drive down the costs of health care," NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey said. "Independent community pharmacists are committed to proactively identifying solutions to improve patient adherence in their communities, and the challenge is a terrific way to raise awareness among the next generation of pharmacists."


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