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OraSure Technologies praises new hepatitis C testing recommendations

BY Rebecca Haughey

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — OraSure Technologies, makers of the OraQuick HCV Rapid Antibody Test, on Tuesday announced its support for the new recommendations issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

The USPSTF gave both hepatitis C (HCV) screening for at-risk individuals and age-cohort screening a "B" grade. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, preventive services that have received an "A" or "B" grade from the USPSTF must be covered by insurance policies without cost-sharing and be part of the essential health benefits for those individuals eligible for Medicare.

The new recommendations, "Screening for Hepatitis C virus infection in adults: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement," significantly expand the USPSTF’s previous recommendation of screening for HCV. The recommendation is in response to the higher prevalence of HCV infection among Baby Boomers; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1-out-of-30 Baby Boomers is living with hepatitis C infection. The USPSTF recommends that all Baby Boomers be tested for hepatitis C at least once.

"We applaud the new U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations, which will help to make hepatitis C screening much more accessible as a regular part of medical care," said Douglas A. Michels, president and CEO of OraSure Technologies. "As a result of the recommendations, we believe that over time more individuals will get tested and learn their hepatitis C status, and we expect that our OraQuick Rapid HCV test will enable individuals presumed to be infected to be referred immediately for follow-up care."

The OraQuick HCV Rapid Antibody Test is the first and only FDA-approved, CLIA-waived rapid, point-of-care test of the detection of antibodies of the hepatitis C virus. OraQuick HCV results are available in 20 minutes, which can help increase the delivery of test results, allowing early diagnosis and linkage to care, treatment and prevention services.

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McKesson ideaShare 2013 shines spotlight on vitality, opportunities within retail pharmacy during opening general session

BY Michael Johnsen

LAS VEGAS — May you live in exciting times. And if you make your business in healthcare or retail pharmacy, you most certainly are — in "an exciting dynamic time," Mark Walchirk, president of McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical, told attendees of Thursday afternoon’s Opening General Session, marking the official start of McKesson ideaShare 2013.

The market is certainly looking up, Walchirk said. And so is independent pharmacy. “[Community pharmacy] is obviously a thriving marketplace — we continue to see new stores come into existence.”

The aging population continues to provide a strong foundation for that growth, but it will be the services and capabilities provided by community pharmacy operations that represents the real growth opportunity.

A larger population participating in health care courtesy of healthcare reform will do more than drive incremental prescription growth. That reform also will help drive outcomes-based medicine, and community pharmacy is well positioned to drive healthcare savings by ensuring patients stay adherent and compliant with their therapies. “Just small increases in adherence and compliance with medications can drive significant growth in the marketplace,” Walchirck said.

Of the challenges facing the industry, changing reimbursement ranks high, Walchirk said. Combined with declining reimbursement rates, community pharmacies must learn how to collaborate to participate in preferred and performance-based networks.

As this shift from a fee-for-service system to a performance-based healthcare model based on delivered value continues, McKesson expressed its committed to helping customers take advantage of emerging reimbursement opportunities by investing in new offerings designed to improve medication adherence and patient outcomes. “In reality, independent community pharmacy is positioned very well … you have the opportunity with the tremendous relationships you have in your community and with your patients to be more of a caregiver or provider versus simply filling prescriptions,” he said.

“Specialty medicine is another significant opportunity for community pharmacy – a real emerging market for retail pharmacy and we are in conversations with a number of business partners to have a more comprehensive approach [to specialty pharmacy],” Walchirk said.

Following Walchirk, Frank Starn, SVP and COO, McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical, recognized Parkland Health Mart Pharmacy as the 2013 Pharmacy of the Year. "[The Pharmacy of the Year honor] is about maximizing local relationships, to position [the] store as a true healthcare destination,” Starn said. As part of the honor, McKesson made a $2,500 donation to the St. Louis College of Pharmacy.

The Opening General Session concluded with futurist David Houle delivering the keynote presentation. Houle identified a number of “dynamic flows” within the healthcare space on which independent pharmacy can capitalize. For example, healthcare is primed to transition from a disease treatment system to a disease prevention system, and community pharmacy is already positioned on the forefront of educating their patients around wellness. “In the next three to four years most Americans — a lot of them educated by you — will begin to understand the benefits of prevention,” he said.

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Q&A with Chuck Wilson: Health Mart previews Local Marketing Support program and new store look at McKesson ideaShare

BY DSN STAFF

Drug Store News talked with Chuck Wilson, vice president of Health Mart pharmacy operations, about its new Local Marketing Program designed to help Health Mart members attract new patients and drive revenue.

DSN: One of the highlights of the Health Mart Annual Meeting is the new Local Marketing Support program. Can you tell us more about that?

Chuck Wilson: We are very excited to preview the Local Marketing Support program this week at McKesson ideaShare. The new program was designed with the input of our Health Mart members who asked us to help them market their stores more aggressively on a local level. The Local Marketing Support program puts marketing funds and new tools directly in members’ hands and makes it easier for them to grow their business by attracting new patients and driving new revenue.

The program delivers a wide variety of fresh, new, consumer-tested marketing tools and resources to help Health Mart pharmacists and pharmacy owners market more effectively with less effort. There is no fee to enroll in the Local Marketing Support program, and members can order individual marketing tools, pre-packaged campaigns or subscription programs.

DSN: How can Health Mart members take advantage of the Local Marketing Support program?

Wilson: Accessible via McKesson Connect, our online ordering portal, the centerpiece of the program is the new Marketing Hub. The Marketing Hub features a comprehensive catalog of customizable marketing tools and promotions, including new consumer-tested campaigns, social media content, email marketing and in-store promotional materials, as well as the traditional newspaper, radio and TV ad production and placement. Support from local marketing coordinators is available to help Health Mart members utilize Marketing Hub resources efficiently and support the execution of their campaigns, as well as offer ‘do it for me’ capabilities like community outreach, PR and ad production and placement. Matching funds also are available as a reward for Health Mart stores that have embraced the Health Mart brand, and the funds can now be used for any tactic or campaign ordered on the Marketing Hub. They are applied in real time when you place an order on the Marketing Hub, so using matching funds is easier than ever.

DSN: You seem to be emphasizing digital marketing, why is that important to Health Mart members?

Wilson: In today’s world, digital marketing is becoming an essential part of any marketing plan. More and more, consumers want the convenience of computers, smartphones and tablets for accessing information, entertainment and friends. Recognizing this fundamental shift, many local businesses, including many pharmacies — chain and independent — are adopting digital marketing to remain relevant to their prospects and customers.

Health Mart pharmacists have always been known for their personal relationships with their customers, so digital media is a natural extension. More than reaching consumers at a fraction of the cost of other media, Facebook, Twitter, email and mobile marketing can help them interact with consumers in ways traditional media simply can’t match. Digital media invites consumers to respond, helping boost customer loyalty and spark electronic ‘word of mouth,’ when friends tell friends about the personalized service they receive at their local Health Mart.

We also have invested heavily in digital marketing tools with the re-launch of HealthMart.com and Your Pharmacy Online. Now, our members have access to powerful and cost-effective online tools that offer a professional and contemporary online presence.

DSN: Pharmacists are already extremely busy; how can they add marketing to their to-do list?

Wilson: We know that Health Mart pharmacists and owners have strong relationships with their communities. We also know that many don’t have the time, energy, resources or experience to effectively communicate their unique strengths and services to the community and compete with other pharmacies.

Building on the tremendous feedback we received from members as we conducted extensive research for the Health Mart 2.0 project, the Local Marketing Program is designed specifically to make marketing easier. The Marketing Hub gives members the ability to choose their own tools and tactics or select comprehensive pre-packaged campaigns that focus on clinical issues and services they offer, such as flu shots and synchronized refills. No matter what the members’ goals are, the Marketing Hub is their source solution for tools, information resources, education and centralized marketing management — all designed to help “Promote YOUR Health Mart YOUR Way.”

DSN: How does the Local Marketing Support program support Health Mart’s national identity?

Wilson: First and foremost, the Local Marketing Support program is designed to help Health Marts compete locally and position themselves as a healthcare destination. This new, more flexible program offers marketing funds and new tools that make it easier for Health Mart pharmacies to grow their businesses. Ultimately, more successful members create a better, stronger Health Mart franchise that can deliver measurable clinical performance at more than 3,100 pharmacies nationwide. This strongly demonstrates to payers, patients and other healthcare providers that Health Mart is a destination for personalized, quality care.

DSN: Health Mart recently updated the store design. Can you tell us more about that?

Wilson: Health Mart has been operating under the same store design since it was re-launched back in 2005. There have been a lot of changes within retail pharmacy since then, not only on the consumer/customer side and the demands that they have within the retail setting, but also within the delivery of healthcare. Most noticeably, we wanted to put the No. 1 asset within an independent pharmacy — which is the pharmacist — front and center. So, we positioned our pharmacy at the front door to provide easier access to the pharmacist as well as a private counseling space directly adjacent to the pharmacy for one-on-one meetings or adherence counseling. The design is flexible because we want to make it easy for our pharmacy customers to implement the new store design and fit into their store’s unique footprint. We’ve updated all of the décor elements to make them more contemporary, but also in a way that is functional and will help Health Mart customer’s more easily navigate their store.

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