MSI gives customers best of both worlds
Chain pharmacies and independent pharmacies each have their advantages and disadvantages. Chains generally follow a top-down business model that requires all stores to be roughly identical in terms of their look and services, but they can offer those services to customers around the country. Independents’ services usually are limited to one or a handful of locations in a single geographic area, but they have more freedom in terms of their mix of products and services.
But what if a pharmacy could tap into the advantages of chains and independents? That’s the case at Medicine Shoppe International and Medicap Pharmacy stores. Strictly speaking, MSI, owned by Cardinal Health, isn’t a chain; it’s a franchising system that allows pharmacists to operate their stores how they see fit while using a respected international brand.
As one example, MSI has rapidly expanded its Specialized Care Centers, which address the needs of patients with such health conditions as diabetes by offering such services as diabetes care, home health care, durable medical equipment and immunizations. This, in turn, helps franchisees drive more traffic into their stores and diversify revenue streams beyond front-end goods and filling scripts. Cardinal Health — which in November 2010 appointed John Fiacco as VP of Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy stores — is running a Specialized Care Center for heart health as a pilot program and plans to expand it later in the year.
Combating prescription drug abuse is another area where Cardinal Health and MSI have focused attention, such as through Cardinal’s GenerationRx program. In March, the Cardinal Health Foundation teamed up with the American Pharmacists Association to provide pharmacy students and educators, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals with tools and information to fight abuse of prescription drugs in a partnership announced at the APhA’s annual meeting in Seattle.
H-E-B adding clinics, new Rx services
“After all, we’re from around here, too.” That message, delivered to millions of Texas consumers via the pharmacy page on H-E-B’s heavily scanned website, lies at the heart of the San Antonio-based supermarket chain’s seemingly unshakeable grip on both customers and patients in the Lone Star State. The H.E. Butt Grocery Co. maintains high marks for customer loyalty, innovative patient care services, a quality shopping experience and plenty of healthy choices in its food aisles.
H-E-B pharmacists now provide health screenings for blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol every second Saturday of the month from March through October, as well as quarterly A1C exams for patients with diabetes. Those patients also are eligible for a free InControl No Coding starter kit when they fill their first script for a diabetes medication.
H-E-B also builds loyalty with its Rx Rewards Platinum card. For a $5 enrollment fee, the card provides discounts on some 500 generic drugs, vaccinations and pet medicines, as well as free health screenings and free prenatal vitamins. Last summer, the company also extended its reach electronically with the launch of an improved website for prescription renewals and a new link with customers’ mobile phones.
To ward off disease, the company’s pharmacies and clinicians now offer periodic immunizations, not only for flu but also for hepatitis A and B, HPV/cervical cancer, measles, meningitis, pneumonia, shingles and tetanus. That appeal to disease prevention has permeated the food aisles as well; H-E-B promotes healthier nutritional choices with programs like its Fully Fit branding program, which identifies healthy foods throughout the store, and the H-E-Buddy campaign, designed to educate kids about healthier foods and snacks.
In partnership with RediClinic, H-E-B aggressively is expanding its network of in-store clinics. RediClinic revealed last fall it will open another 20 clinics in H-E-B stores this year, nearly doubling its presence within the Texas chain, with a focus on the Austin, Houston and San Antonio regions.
Raley’s continues focus on patient care
Like most retailers in California, combo-store pioneer Raley’s Supermarkets has been in a slow growth mode since the recession began in 2008. “We still have 105 pharmacies, so not a lot has changed in the past few years,” said John Segale, a spokesman for the Sacramento-based chain.
That’s the same number Raley’s had in 2008 when the recession began. Since then, Raley’s has added four supermarkets, raising its total store count from 129 to 133 that operate under four banners, comprising Raley’s (85), Bel-Air (22), Nob Hill (21) and Food Source (5). Food Source is a warehouse-format chain it launched in 1994, while Bel-Air and Nob Hill are small chains it acquired in the 1990s.
Though the pharmacy division hasn’t added new stores, it’s continued to build an already strong slate of educational events, health screenings and special programs for customers. Raley’s newest program is called Pharmacist Care for Diabetes, which was launched in late 2010 with the University of California-San Francisco, insurer Blue Shield and members of the California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS. Under the program, CalPERs members who have diabetes and fill their scripts at Raley’s can have a one-on-one meeting with their pharmacists to develop programs to better manage their blood-sugar levels.
“Through this unique partnership, more patients living with diabetes can receive enhanced support from their pharmacist,” said Raley’s VP pharmacy and healthy lifestyles Flint Pendergraft.
Raley’s also recently launched its ReadyFill program, which notifies customers by phone or email when a script refill is ready for pickup. And its pharmacies offer vaccines for more than a half-dozen diseases.