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PharmaSmart kiosks advance patient self-diagnosis

BY Michael Johnsen

The Food and Drug Administration over the past year has been exploring ways to further increase the value of the over-the-counter medicine space through the utilization of technology to support new Rx-to-OTC switches. In-store diagnostic tools that help improve compliance, contribute to a HIPPA-compliant health record and increase interception opportunities between pharmacists and patients, like those fielded by PharmaSmart, are the kind of in-store support tools that the FDA is reviewing.

And any question that in-store kiosks are not reliable diagnostic tools that can be a part of a total regular healthcare regiment were put to rest by the December 2012 issue of Blood Pressure Monitoring. The peer-reviewed survey singled out PharmaSmart’s kiosk as compliant with the AAMI/ISO international accuracy standard.

"We have a live [electronic medical record] today that’s actually sending patients data from the pharmacy directly into the patient’s health record at the physician’s office," noted Ashton Maaraba, GM and COO of PharmaSmart International. PharmaSmart has been featuring a kiosk that integrates a "Smart Card" functionality to enable the transfer of blood-pressure and pulse readings through a secure HIPAA-compliant server and into an online patient health portal.

Late last year PharmaSmart got a visit from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he visited companies recognized as leading the way in the state’s economic development. PharmaSmart is one of 20 companies across New York to become part of Cuomo’s Empire State Development Program.

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Medagate’s health card combines incentives with functionality

BY Michael Johnsen

Programs incentivizing health care won’t be effective if they’re not intuitive and easy to use. That’s why Medagate’s MasterCard Dual Value Health Card, which enables employers and health plans to combine a member/employee healthcare funding purse with a restricted-spend purse for targeted items and incentives, is so important.

It enables that OTC value to be realized at the point of sale. "Effective participation in wellness programs requires advanced functionality and deeper levels of member engagement," said Devin Wade, CEO of Medagate. "The drive toward rewarding healthy behavior will be accommodated by a new generation of customizable payment tools linked to familiar debit and prepaid cards that provide instant rewards and discounts at the point of sale," he said. "Our experience in Medicare and Medicaid markets has shown that the availability of a targeted benefit can have a measurable impact on health behavior."

The OTC applications can range from supplementing the purchase of prenatal vitamins to smoking-cessation products. Retailers and benefit providers also can offer coupons or special promotions to specific populations — for example, known allergy sufferers on the first day of hay fever season. Funds and items on defined contribution and controlled spend lists can be reloaded and redefined at any time.

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Retailers respond to demand for in-store health guides

BY Michael Johnsen

There is perhaps no greater value in the OTC space than having a friendly face guide you to the health information you need — when you are physically in the store. That value will resonate even more with consumers once they realize that the guide is a dedicated position who is there to help them access health information at the shelf with the Drug Facts Label or through a Web-enabled tablet. And when that interaction graduates from providing direction to requiring an actual consultation, the OTC health guide can serve as a bridge to the pharmacist.

According to a recent poll conducted by PR firm Edelman, as many as 40% of consumers feel there isn’t enough relevant health information available to them at the point of decision.

Walgreens and Rite Aid are the two national retailers who are today ramping up availability of health guides across their respective store bases. In the Northwest markets in which Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy operates, health guides have been a core component of that company’s business model since the beginning; Pharmaca actually deploys licensed healthcare professionals into its OTC aisles. And Max Wellness, an OTC store concept developed by OfficeMax founder Michael Feuer, like-wise has armed all of its employees with tablets loaded with relevant health information.

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