PHARMACY

Increasing focus on diabetes care

BY Michael Johnsen

Ahold USA’s COO James McCann earlier this year outlined the driving force behind the supermarket operator’s overarching initiatives — improve customer perceptions of its U.S. operations across quality and service, as well as price. Operating under the Stop & Shop, Giant/ Martin’s and Giant Landover banners, Ahold USA’s high-touch pharmacy business aims to do just that through its focus on diabetes care, Brad Dayton, Ahold USA VP pharmacy, told Drug Store News. “[Through these initiatives], we believe that we can influence customers’ health outcomes and, consequently, their overall healthcare spend,” he said.

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Today, more than 400 Ahold USA pharmacists are specially trained and certified in patient-centered diabetes care, and that will extend to all of Ahold USA’s pharmacy operations by yearend. “These pharmacists are engaging their patients in ways we’ve never done before,” Dayton said. “From one-on-one consultations to in-store diabetes management classes, we’re reaching patients in innovative and relevant ways.”

Joining Ahold USA pharmacists on the frontline of health delivery is the company’s in-store nutritionists. “We’re fortunate to have an ever-growing stable of nutritionists in the stores, and we’re leveraging their expertise in unique ways,” Dayton said. For example, many nutritionists and diabetes care pharmacists are teaming up to lead diabetes management classes at their stores and in the community.

Additionally, Ahold USA nutritionists recently created a web-based learning module to give pharmacists practical nutritional advice that they can incorporate into conversations with their patients about heart disease and diabetes. “Maintaining a proper diet is as important as medication for conditions like heart disease and diabetes. The unfortunate reality, however, is that many pharmacists feel uncomfortable discussing nutrition with their patients. We’ve taken some steps to build our pharmacists’ nutritional IQ, and, as a result, their confidence,” Dayton said.

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PHARMACY

Building marketing clout

BY Jim Frederick

Created in September 2009 with the merger of Phoenix-based United Drugs and Scottsboro, Ala.-based Associated Pharmacies, AAP remains a member-owned cooperative and buying group offering independent operators the negotiating power of a national pharmacy network “working together like a chain.”

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Last year, marketing director Emily Marino said, the cooperative “focused on three main initiatives that would align our members’ goals with that of the industry.”

To that end, AAP beefed up its Quality Center, an online resource for members that analyzes claims against Medicare’s Star ratings criteria and provides pharmacies with a daily activity list to improve adherence and medication safety scores.

“To ensure our pharmacies stay ahead of the curve, we designed tools and programs, such as the Quality Center, that help our pharmacies continue to provide superior quality service and participate effectively in these pay-for-performance programs,” said Rob McMahan, president of AAP’s United Drugs division.

In 2014, AAP also launched a major campaign to help its members gain entry into specialty medicines. “AAP launched AAP Specialty in 2014 for our pharmacies to be trained in-house and given the tools they need to become a specialty pharmacy,” Marino said.

The new specialty unit “provides a centralized hub service for our member pharmacies, and manages the clinical, financial, prior authorization, data aggregation, medication safety and adherence services,” Marino said.

AAP’s third major initiative has been “focused on enhancing our member-owned warehouse capabilities,” Marino told DSN. “In 2014, AAP developed a more streamlined process by installing automation equipment located in our Memphis distribution center,” she said. “This allows the API warehouse to continue providing next-day delivery at the best prices for our members.”

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PHARMACY

Grocery giants complete merger

BY Barbara White-Sax

Albertsons (AB Acquisition LLC) and Safeway completed their merger in early 2015, creating a new, privately owned supermarket pharmacy giant. The combined company should place Safeway/Albertsons among the top five supermarket retailers in the country.

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At press time, Bob Miller was named CEO of the new company. Robert Edwards, former Safeway president and CEO, will continue as vice chairman.

The new company will be comprised of three regions and 14 retail divisions, supported by corporate offices in Boise, Idaho; Pleasanton, Calif.; and Phoenix. Banners will include Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs, Albertsons, ACME, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw’s, Star Market, Super Saver, United Supermarkets, Market Street and Amigos. The company has not indicated that it will change the names of any of its stores.

Today, the company operates 2,230 grocery stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia.

In a statement at the time of the merger, Edwards said the larger company planned to continue its active local community focus, which will likely have a pharmacy concentration. In recognition of its outstanding immunization services, the American Pharmacists Association awarded Safeway its Corporate Immunization Champion award in 2014. APhA recognized the chain for its leading-edge position in immunization practice since the supermarket chain began offering immunization services in 2000.

The two chains offer a wide range of immunizations, health screenings and prescription savings programs. Safeway and Albertsons also have added Stayhealthy health kiosks to a number of locations. The combined company will likely extend Albertsons’ successful Diabetes Care Program to selected Safeway locations. The program enrolls patients with diabetes in diabetes seminars, diabetes management classes, or a six-month program of education and follow-up to encourage sustainable healthy lifestyle choices.

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