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The healthcare future is here

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Digitizing the medical records of 150 million patients means that nearly half of the entire population of the United States will have its records stored electronically next year. It’s an ambitious goal, but more importantly, it’s a major step toward the transformation of the healthcare system toward an electronic, digitized model.

(THE NEWS: Surescripts, Epic partner on electronic health records. For the full story, click here.) 

Already, by the end of last year, 58% of office-based physicians were using electronic prescribing, according to Surescripts, as well as 91% of retail pharmacies. And in July of this year, Minnesota was ranked first in the country for use of e-prescribing in Surescripts’ seventh annual Safe-Rx Awards, with 61% of prescriptions routed electronically in the state. Meanwhile, Massachusetts and New Hampshire showed the highest rate of physician adoption of e-prescribing, with 86% each.

In February 2012, a study by management consulting firm Accenture found that the United States has become a leader in the use and adoption of healthcare information technology. The study compared the United States with Canada, Australia, England, France, Germany, Spain and Singapore. At that time, about 62% of specialists in the United States were using electronic tools to improve administrative efficiency, such as electronic scheduling and billing, compared with the global average of 49%, while the percentage of U.S. physicians entering their notes electronically during and after appointments was equal to the percentages in other countries.

Most notably, however, 54% of physicians in the Accenture study were sending prescriptions electronically, compared to an average of 20% for the other countries.

In other words, the future is here — and health care is on the front lines of it.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.

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Model Freja Beha Erichsen is the newest face of Maybelline

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Maybelline New York announced on Friday that fashion runway star Freja Beha Erichsen was signed to the brand.

She joins a lineup of spokeswomen that includes Christy Turlington, Julia Stegner, Erin Wasson, Kemp Muhl, Shu-Pei Qin, Emily DiDonato and Charlotte Free.

Erichsen, who is often described as the "queen of cool" for her edgy, urban looks, will make her debut in advertising campaigns for Maybelline New York later this year.

"Freja is an incredibly beautiful and confident woman," stated Damien Bertrand, global brand president for Maybelline New York. "Not only is she a top model for a new generation, but she is also a modern style icon off the runway. She truly captures the catwalk-to-sidewalk spirit of Maybelline New York."

Discovered on the streets of her hometown Copenhagen, Denmark, Erichsen is a natural in front of the camera and on the catwalk. She appeared in 64 shows during her breakout runway season, and she has walked the runways for several top designers, including Alexander McQueen, Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Prada, Yves Saint Laurent and Zac Posen. Known to be a muse for Karl Lagerfeld, Freja has been in almost every Chanel runway show since 2006.

She has also starred in major advertising campaigns for Chanel, as well as Balenciaga, Jil Sander, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Emporio Armani, Chloe, Gap, J Brand, H&M, Calvin Klein, Balmain, Gianfranco Ferre, Pringle, Louis Vuitton, Harry Winston, Georg Jensen, Moncler, Max Mara, Velentino and Roberto Cavalli.

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Supervalu takes a step toward turnaround with 60 store closures. Is it enough?

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The journey to a complete turnaround begins with the first step. Supervalu’s restructuring, refocusing and revitalizing the executive team may have been the first step, but it’s been quickly followed by the second — culling out underperforming stores and reinvesting those saved dollars into that refocused, revitalized business. The question, really, is this: Is 60 enough? Is closing out 60 underperforming or nonstrategic stores out of the company’s total 2,400-plus store base (including Save-A-Lot), enough?

(THE NEWS: Supervalu announces additional store closures. For the full story, click here.)

It’s certainly a step in the right direction, and it’s not the only step that Supervalu is taking.

"Today’s announcement reflects our commitment to move with a greater sense of urgency to reduce costs and improve shareholder value," said Wayne Sales, Supervalu chairman, president and CEO and. But Sales and his team have already been moving with that sense of urgency. The day after Sales assumed the helm at Supervalu, he identified four key initiatives to help grow Supervalu in a letter to employees that was later published by The Wall Street Journal

First, Supervalu must generate profitable sales, Sales noted, which entails right-pricing the stores to the competitive environment while maintaining focus on a superior shopping experience. "Together, we will take immediate steps to profitably improve sales and create points of sustainable differentiation in the marketplace," he wrote. Second, Supervalu must continue to take significant costs out of the system (such as the aforementioned 60 underperforming stores) at a fast pace. Third, like Sales’ predecessor, Supervalu’s Save-A-Lot deep discount banner needs to serve as the company’s growth engine going forward. And last, Supervalu needs to maintain deliverables across its grocery wholesaler business that services some 2,700 independent grocers. 

The step to close 60 stores may generate more proceeds than Supervalu expects. Supervalu estimated that these store closures would generate between $80 million and $90 million in cash proceeds from the sale of owned real estate (which accounts for approximately one-third of those 60 stores). But according to an analysis whipped up by Citi Research analyst Deborah Weinswig, however, those cash proceeds could actually fall between $85 million and $98 million. "Of the banners mentioned, Albertsons and Jewel-Osco had some of the highest real estate valuations at around $125 per square foot or nearly $7 million per store based on an average size of 52,500 square feet per store, by our estimate," she wrote in a Sept. 6 research note. "Valuations for [Supervalu’s] Save-A-Lot stores were significantly less at around $69 per square foot or approximately $1 million per store based on an average size of about 15,000 sq. ft. per store. Assuming the full $80 million to $90 million in cash proceeds comes from the monetization of owned real estate … this implies [Supervalu] would get a maximum of just over $4 million per store, so we believe that the proceeds from store sales seems a little light."

So, are 60 store closures enough? Probably not. It represents only 2.4% of the company’s store base, and that leaves the challenge for Sales to fix the remaining 97.6%. Analysts have suggested that Supervalu will continue exploring the liquidation of assets that the grocer originally announced in July by then-president/CEO Craig Herkert, because a company doesn’t hire such investment bankers as Goldman Sachs and Greenhill & Co. just to consult on asset valuations. Those bankers are there to sell those assets.

But that should come as no surprise. Supervalu has taken its first few steps toward turning its business into a profitable venture in what has become a very competitive space: The volatile economy; fear of food inflation borne out of the drought across America’s breadbasket; increased competitive pressure from nontraditional food retailers, such as the smaller-box Walmarts and Targets, and the more fresh options being sold through the drug store and dollar store channels.

Now all Supervalu has to do is keep walking.

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