Phone apps, telepharmacy streamline Rx experience
When ScriptPro started introducing pharmacy robots, it entered an industry where the pharmacist was mostly dolling out medications. Today, pharmacy automation and technology continue to evolve, freeing pharmacists’ time and taking on everything from workflow automation to smart-phone applications.
QS/1 has supplemented its pharmacy software systems — the latest version will come out later this year — by developing smart-phone applications, like MobileRx, designed to streamline medication refills. “[Patients] want a quick and easy way to refill their prescriptions,” QS/1 senior sales and account manager Rich Muller told Drug Store News. “Everyone has their cell phone pretty much attached to the hip, in their pocket or in their purse.”
But automation happens outside the view of customers as well. Health Market Science has developed various tools that allow pharmacists to stay up to date on information about prescribers by aggregating and validating data from thousands of sources. “It’s retail pharmacy incorporating prescriber data in the workflow process; it’s retail pharmacy validating prescribers real-time before a prescription is being dispensed,” said Craig Ford, Health Market Science SVP sales for the pharmacy segment.
Behind the counter, too, companies are streamlining workflow. Innovation Associates plans to unveil a series of countertop counting machines later this year that EVP Doyle Jensen said would be a “game changer.” The company also plans to introduce a semi-automated counting system in a pilot program with 14 chains.
Meanwhile, ScriptPro has branched into telepharmacy, with a system now used by the U.S. Navy and small, remote towns. “Telepharmacy allows pharmacists to have the same level of control, accuracy and patient interactions across a wide area,” ScriptPro president and CEO Mike Coughlin told Drug Store News.
NewsBytes on WAG’s Rx purchasing team, WMT’s Duncan Mac Naughton, CVS Q4 results and more
DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens this month rounded out the pharmacy purchasing team led by Jeff Berkowitz, who joined the company in the fall as SVP pharmaceutical development and market access.
The team includes Frank DeStefano, promoted to group VP pharmacy purchasing and supply chain and responsible for all branded and generic pharmaceutical purchases and pharmacy inventory optimization across the company’s retail, mail, specialty, home infusion, on-site and work-site pharmacy units; Mike Bleser, promoted to divisional VP pharmacy supply chain and analytics and responsible for strategic management of pharmacy inventory across Walgreens; Mike Allen, promoted to divisional VP generic pharmacy purchasing and strategy and responsible for all generic drug purchasing; Jeff Foreman, who joins Walgreens from Cardinal Health as divisional VP brand pharmaceutical wholesaler and vaccine purchasing; and Gerry Gleeson, who joins Walgreens from Merck as divisional VP of pharmaceutical development responsible for optimizing Walgreens’ relationships with pharmaceutical manufacturers.
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart named Duncan Mac Naughton chief merchandising officer for the company’s U.S. division, less than three months after he was named EVP merchandising.
In other company news, Walmart named Cindy Davis EVP global consumer insights, a new business unit for the company. Davis previously served as EVP membership and marketing for Sam’s Club.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Sanofi-Aventis has agreed to acquire U.S. biotech giant Genzyme for $20.1 billion. Sanofi plans to make Genzyme its “global center for excellence” in rare diseases.
WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark reported that fourth-quarter net revenues dipped 4.1% to $24.8 billion, with net income of $1.03 billion compared with $1.05 billion the prior year. Retail pharmacy revenues rose 3.1% to $14.9 billion during the three-month period ended Dec. 31, 2010. Same-store sales increased 1.7%, with front-end comps up 1% and pharmacy comps up 2%, driven by a 220 basis point improvement from Maintenance Choice.
THE CLINICS: Helping ‘Take Care’ of primary care shortage
With pharmaceutical and healthcare expenditures on the rise, a primary care shortage at hand and an expected upswing in patients diagnosed with chronic diseases, there’s no denying that the marketplace is in the midst of an evolution. Despite the challenges, Walgreens’ health-and-wellness division has positioned itself for such changes and, according to headquarter executives, has a winning strategy in place — broadening and deepening its payer relationships.
“One area that payer communities all have in common is the need to measure, deliver and improve outcomes, which encompass providing accessible, high-quality care at reduced costs,” Hal Rosenbluth, SVP and president of Walgreens Health and Wellness, told analysts during a presentation in late 2010. “If done properly, this will provide for a happier, more productive and healthier work force and member community.”
Walgreens defines payer communities as employers, health plans, health systems, PBMs, government and individual and small businesses. With about 360 retail-based Take Care Clinics stretched across 19 states, and some 368 employer-based health, pharmacy and fitness centers nationwide, Walgreens Health and Wellness offers an expanded scope of services that it says provide a solution to part — if not all — of the needs of different payer groups.
“Whether by helping hospitals reduce the cost of readmission, assisting employers in reducing pharmacy spend or providing greater access to specialty drugs and healthcare services, Walgreens has the solutions payers need for their constituents, whether at work, in their neighborhood or at home,” Rosenbluth said.
One example of this: Harrah’s Showboat casino in Atlantic City, N.J. The casino’s on-site Health and Wellness Center, operated by Walgreens’ Take Care Health Systems employer services group, opened in 2005. During its first year of operation, the facility was seeing about 26 patients a day, Emily Gaines, VP compensation, benefits and HRSS for Harrah’s Entertainment, told Drug Store News. By 2010, the center was seeing an average of 65 patients a day and was up to about 17,000 visits a year out of the facility.
Health systems also are facing their share of challenges, as many will be judged and, in some cases, reimbursed based on patient satisfaction, outcomes and the pooling of resources. Rosenbluth noted that, again, this is where Walgreens can step in. “Not a week goes by where we are not approached or approaching hospital systems with solutions, including our hospital on-site pharmacy, in-store Take Care Clinics, infusion centers, home care services and medication fulfillment choices to aid in their own micro-healthcare ecosystems,” Rosenbluth said. “As you can see by now, this is thematic in our approach to the needs of the healthcare marketplace. By helping others we, in turn, are helping ourselves.”
To better address the unique needs of each payer segment —whether it be employers, health systems, health plans, PBMs, government or individual and small businesses — Walgreens Health and Wellness recently revamped its sales and account management organization to better focus on bringing all of Walgreens’ healthcare assets to market. The revamped sales team is comprised of sales and client service executives with experience across all of the payer segments.
“Our approach is to bring all of Walgreens’ asset solutions to each segment, whether online, offline or in person,” Rosenbluth said. “Each payer has a unique set of capabilities and, combined with our solution set, they can each now go to market with a differentiated offering and, in turn, become an additional sales channel for Walgreens’ products and services. … Now, rather than primarily being a provider of pharmacy benefit services, we have developed a much broader set of strategic and consultative relationships in the marketplace.”