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Patient care: Turning words to ACTion

BY Jim Frederick

“We’re asking the pharmacists to be proactive in their communication rather than reactive.”

That’s Andrew Markievich, manager of pharmacy clinical programs for Ahold USA, the big Dutch-based owner-operator of such U.S. supermarket chains as Stop & Shop and Giant Food in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions. Speaking to Drug Store News’ Alaric DeArment, Markievich was describing a new campaign at Ahold USA’s more than 560 food-store pharmacies “to take a more active, deliberate role in communicating with our patients.” Ahold calls the new campaign “ACT,” for “Acknowledge, Coach and Thank.”

Encouraging pharmacists to develop stronger relationships and more face time with their patients is nothing new, of course; pharmacy operators across all retail channels have been giving at least lip service to a higher level of patient counseling and clinical care ever since patients themselves began complaining about access to their pharmacist. And many chains have gone well beyond lip service, offloading many of the steps in the Rx dispensing process to qualified technicians and company-operated central-fill pharmacies so their pharmacists can get out from behind the computer screen and interact more with the customer.

Nevertheless, Ahold’s move is another welcome sign of where retail pharmacy practice is headed. Prescription dispensing will always be the core function and sales driver at retail pharmacies, but these days, the pharmacy that treats patients as an afterthought and focuses solely on churning prescription volume will lose its customers to the pharmacist down the street who takes a minute or two to greet them at the counter, ask them how they’re doing, counsel them on their meds and their condition, and even, if needed, to step out from behind the counter and help them find what they need in the OTC aisle.

Markievich freely admitted that Ahold is taking a page from independent pharmacies, which, he acknowledges, “typically score very high in customer satisfaction.

“As owners of their pharmacies, these pharmacists make a deliberate effort to make each customer feel important and appreciated,” he told DSN. “That’s been our goal and model for ACT! — encourage our pharmacists to adopt an ownership mentality and make each customer feel important and appreciated.”

How far along is the profession in its evolution from basic dispensing and counseling into a higher level of practice and patient care? Are drug store, supermarket and mass merchant pharmacies doing enough to allow their pharmacists to practice at the top of their license and to be fully engaged partners on the patient-care team? If you’re a community pharmacist, is your own company doing enough to encourage and support that kind of practice? As always, your comments are welcome.

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Mscripts launches Web Pharmacy

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN FRANCISCO — Mobile pharmacy technology company Mscripts has launched Web Pharmacy, which will allow pharmacies to offer patients an integrated and branded web and mobile environment to manage their health and prescription needs, the company said Tuesday.

The system provides customers with a unified, omnichannel experience for text, phone and web interactions and provides many of the same features available with Mscripts’ Mobile Pharmacy, including one-click refill, consolidated view of medications, pharmacy locator and transfer of prescriptions. Patients also can create medical expense reports, and sort and search capabilities.

"The addition of Mscripts Web Pharmacy allows pharmacies to satisfy the needs of a broad consumer base — some may prefer using the Web, while others their mobile phone, or a combination of both," Mscripts CEO Mark Cullen said. "Mscripts’ Web Pharmacy employs an intuitive interface customized with each customer’s brand, creating new opportunities for improved interactions, adherence and refill rates."

 

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Macmillan Children’s Publishing launches preschool line for BTS season

BY Jason Owen

NEW YORK — Last month, Schoolies, a line of preschool books and flash cards published by Priddy Books, a division of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, launched into mass, book, specialty and online retailers across the country in time for the back-to-school seson. Now, the company is set to launch nine new titles for spring 2014.

The Schoolies publishing program expansion continues with nine new titles releasing next spring, including a coloring activity book, two sticker activity books, four 8×8 readers — "Time for Recess," "The Talent Show," "The Field Trip" and "The School Fair" — and "My Fun School Set" that includes five books, crayons and more. Initially introduced through a successful mobile app, Schoolies’ inaugural book line features Spencer the Owl and his friends as they prepare for their first day of school, make new friends and learn their ABCs and 123s.

"We have been really pleased by the positive response to Schoolies," said Roger Priddy, publisher of Priddy Books. "While we saw the potential of combining Ellen Crimi-Trent’s fun collection of characters, along with our Priddy Books approach to early learning, the initial sell-in and sell-through results have been great and confirm the broad appeal of this brand. Schoolies is a classic combination of great children’s book characters and essential first learning with all the potential for a strong publishing program for many years to come. "

"The talented team at Priddy, along with their high standards for product quality and creativity, have been integral in evolving Schoolies into the educational preschool brand that I have long aspired for it to become," said Schoolies creator, Ellen Crimi-Trent. "The books are just the beginning, as Schoolies really lends itself to many different products and media platforms. The success to date, along with Priddy’s continued commitment to expand the publishing program, is ideal to seed the brand, introduce the characters, and make it a perennial favorite among teachers, parents and preschoolers in the United States and around the world."


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