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Kermit Crawford, pharmacy visionary, will continue to leave his mark on retail pharmacy

BY Michael Johnsen

Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness, has decided to retire after 31 years with the company. While a true pharmacy visionary may be leaving the company, he's not going far as he will continue to serve as a senior counselor to Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson. And he's not going soon, as his retirement from Walgreens is not effective until the end of the year, which means he will still be leaving his indellible mark on the chain in the near term. 
 
Crawford is a staunch advocate of not only lifting up the pharmacist, enabling them to practice at the top of their license, but also of lifting up pharmacy into becoming the kind of healthcare destination center this country demands. People living longer and there is a shortage of physicians — and retail pharmacy is the industry best equipped to meet the nation's evolving healthcare needs. And Crawford helped put into practice what many professionals were only talking about — transforming the pharmacist's role from medication quality control specialist to the more critical role of patient counselor and advocate and setting the stage for pharmacist as provider. "For us the product is no longer the pill," Crawford told DSN regarding the transformation of Walgreens' pharmacy operations. "The product is the health outcome associated with that pill," he said. “We are deliberately transforming the way we practice pharmacy, going from what was a transaction-based environment to one that is more about patient relationships." 
 
In transforming the way healthcare professionals operate today, Crawford has helped put into play retail health services like patient adherence programs, a growing menu of health tests and collaborative disease management efforts with hospitals and physicians.
 
 
Crawford can also be credited for Walgreens' significant immunization program – for example, Walgreens is the nation’s leading flu shot provider after the U.S. government. The total number of all CDC-recommended immunizations and vaccines administered by Walgreens reached 8.6 million in the first half of its current fiscal year, an 11% increase over the previous year. And it's not just influenza vaccinations that Walgreens dominates. They are the No. 1 retail provider of Zostavax for shingles.
 
“Walgreens can connect the dots in American health care,” Crawford told DSN. “With health reform and rising health costs, we have a real opportunity here. The goal is to leverage our assets, our footprint of over 8,000 points of care, our presence in the community, our hospital and employer-
based pharmacies and health centers and our clinics … to help manage total population health.”

 
Joining Walgreens in 1983, Crawford has been a store pharmacist, a district manager, VP store operations and VP pharmacy benefit management services. In his advisory role, while he will still have a vital impact on the growth of Walgreens pharmacy, he will also have an opportunity to continue to advance the role of community pharmacy through his work at USC.
 
 

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Q&A: Eyad Farah on McKesson’s Digital Strategy – Your Pharmacy Online

BY DSN STAFF

DSN had an opportunity at McKesson ideaShare to talk to Eyad Farah, senior director of retail product development at McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical, about McKesson’s digital strategy for retail pharmacy and helping pharmacies leverage mobile and digital technology to engage, support and retain patients.

DSN: The Health Mart mobile app, part of the Your Pharmacy Online digital offering, was launched at McKesson ideaShare last year. What was the catalyst behind its creation, and why is this solution important for pharmacies?

Eyad Farah: The industry has evolved significantly over the past few years with greater adoption of digital and mobile tools by patients and consumers — forcing retailers and providers alike to make investments in this space to provide more access and better convenience. Pharmacy owners have the opportunity to capitalize on these trends and integrate these technologies into their business.

McKesson is dedicated to giving retail pharmacy access to affordable technology that enables new forms of patient care and communication. By leveraging mobile, digital and new technologies, we can give pharmacies the ability to engage, support and retain patients.

Your Pharmacy Online is just one way we help our pharmacies stay competitive in this increasingly digital world without having to invest the time and money to develop it themselves. With Your Pharmacy Online, pharmacies can cost-effectively create and manage an attractive, modern website using quick, user-friendly customization tools. Health Mart pharmacies can offer patients a mobile app for on-the-go prescription management that includes the convenience of refill requests, refill and pill reminders, and prescription notifications. This tool also supports Health Mart’s goal of helping our stores improve medication adherence and drive positive health outcomes, while increasing prescription volume.

Response to the Health Mart mobile app has been terrific. So far there have been more than 10,000 downloads to date, and constant growth in the mobile app’s utilization.  
 
DSN: What are some of the greatest challenges facing retail pharmacy today, and how can these digital solutions help pharmacies overcome those challenges?

Farah: Research shows two key factors that play a role in how consumers select a pharmacy are cost and convenience. Digital and mobile capabilities are critical to delivering on convenience; however, effective digital solutions can take significant time and money to develop and implement.  McKesson’s digital strategy is geared at closing the gap to help independent pharmacies build functionality that drives patient engagement and differentiation.

An additional challenge facing pharmacies today is the industry shift from volume to value. Pharmacists are being required to offer a wider set of clinical services to drive better patient care. As an example of how digital technology can support this shift, Your Pharmacy Online provides patients with tools to help them adhere to their medication regimen by reminding them when to take their medications and when to refill them. By activating the pill reminder and refill reminder functions, patients can elect to receive helpful reminders via email or text.

DSN: What’s new with the Your Pharmacy Online this year?

Farah: The newest platform features focus on enhancing the prescription management process, expanding customization tools and improving workflow efficiencies within the store.

  • Pill reminders to help support medication adherence;
  • Multi-pharmacy website allows pharmacies with multiple locations to create a central web page with links to affiliated stores;
  • EnterpriseRx integration improves workflow efficiency with refill requests going directly into the pharmacy system and providing patients additional real-time prescription information, such as refills remaining, prescription history, last refill date, and drug name and dosage; and
  • An updated mobile website that has the same look and feel as the mobile app.

DSN: Where are you taking the platform, and how is your mobile and digital strategy evolving?

Farah: Our goal is to continue to help independent retail pharmacies attract new patients and drive better patient care by investing in cutting-edge digital tools and consumer retail technologies. Some of the key development areas include:

  • Improving the depth and accessibility of our health content (e.g., patient education and disease state-specific knowledge base)
  • Creating simple, consistent user experiences across all channels and platforms. This starts with a mobile-first approach for product and program development, and then broadens the brand reach and extends functionality through third-party mobile and web integrations.
  • Close the gap on core functionality for a stronger position against large chains' digital offerings (e.g., advanced medication management tools, mobile utilities and social media integration).

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Giving pharmacists solutions to enhance patient outcomes

BY Antoinette Alexander

ORLANDO, Fla. — Recognizing the important role that community pharmacy plays, McKesson has long focused on providing solutions to help pharmacists improve patient adherence and enhance patient outcomes as evidenced by programs and solutions offered through McKesson Patient Relationship Solutions (MPRS). However, the growing understanding of pharmacists’ impact on adherence and its importance in today’s evolving healthcare landscape has validated pharmacy based solutions as McKesson bolsters its portfolio of tools.

“We realized many years ago the need to have a business within McKesson that focused on driving patient adherence and enabling the effective use of the medications as they are prescribed by physicians,” Derek Rago, VP and GM of MPRS, told Drug Store News. “When I fast-forward to where we are as a business today, our vision is still to drive, lead and deliver comprehensive adherence solutions.”

Today, MPRS implements award-winning programs designed to reach patients and drive acquisition and adherence via such solutions as co-pay savings and sample programs, behavioral-based patient engagement, print and digital communications, contact center support and outreach, and pharmacy-based patient-support programs.

As part of the ongoing effort, McKesson built out its Sponsored Clinical Services Network, a patient support network that provides member pharmacies exclusive access to a suite of patient-centric offerings. This includes the flagship Pharmacy Intervention Program, which expands patient access to one-on-one behavioral coaching from retail pharmacists. This manufacturer-sponsored program initially kicked off with a focus on diabetes and has since broadened to include COPD, pain management and cardiovascular disease, among other conditions. But not only has the focus broadened, so has the network. Today, the network is comprised of about 3,600 pharmacies, both chains and independents — and it is growing.

“I think the true value proposition, and what is resonating so significantly now as you watch the expectations of pharmacists change, is that this is actually a way for them to support positive behavior change in patients,” said Stacey Irving, VP of Sponsored Clinical Services.

What is especially exciting, said Irving, is that the Pharmacy Intervention Program was able to put into practice what was once a nascent concept and drive results that truly translate into what is happening today within health care.

“There is no doubt in anyone’s mind now that pharmacy can have a meaningful impact on adherence. It is now about how do we apply it in the marketplace so that we impact a broader base of patients?” Irving said.

In fact, a look at the results speaks volumes about the program’s success to date. According to Irving, for our diabetes portfolio of programs, patients who received face-to-face behavioral coaching showed an average of 1.5 to 2 incremental refills with adherence increasing approximately 30%.  Even more impressive, our studies showed sustained adherence impact for these patients through the 18 month mark, demonstrating true health behavior change.

Inspired by the success of its pharmacy-based adherence programs and taking a page from its eCoupon strategy for physicians, MPRS has now developed [email protected] Expected to be available to pharmacies in the fall, [email protected] from MPRS will provide pharmacists with easy, in-store access via an online portal to co-pay savings offers for a growing list of brands.

“Like the Pharmacy Intervention Program, it really leverages our deep pharmacy relationships and technologies; specifically, our McKesson Connect platform, which is the platform that many of our pharmacy partners utilize to purchase their products,” Rago said. “We integrated that technology and that platform to stay within their workflow to create an opportunity for our pharmacists to see if there’s a coupon available for that patient at the point when they are going to dispense the medication.”

How it works: McKesson uploads a coupon, and then the pharmacist can access the portal, select the brand, print the coupon and then adjudicate the coupon as they would if a patient had come in with a physical co-pay card.

“We are really excited about it. It continues to feed into our strategy of having clear channel optimization and leveraging our pharmacy partners and providing value to the pharmacy and, of course, value to the patients,” Rago said.

Added Irving: “As pharmacy tries to address adherence barriers, there’s no doubt that financial barriers exist whether it’s the primary abandonment of the first time they ever hear of the cost or over time. So, I think it is a great opportunity to leverage the pharmacy and their staff to recognize those moments and to be able to do something above and beyond for their patient.”

 

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