Reflecting upon the legacy of Norm
In April, my wife Ann and I received the tragic news that our dear friend and longtime GMDC colleague Norm Loringer had passed away after nobly battling a series of health issues for a number of years. For those of us who had the privilege of knowing Norm and his wife Marlene over the years, his passing is all the more tragic because we have lost him at far too young of an age when he still had much to do.
Norm will be remembered for many things, including his outstanding 36-year career at Colgate-Palmolive that included a trajectory up the sales-management ladder that culminated in his being named Colgate’s director of trade development. It was in his trade development role that Ann and I had the good fortune of getting to know Norm and Marlene early in my career as GMDC president. Ann and I were both green and moving in new circles unfamiliar to us. Norm and Marlene embraced both of us as mentors to help us better manage a challenging transition. They grew to become among our dearest friends as we got to know one another’s kids and developed a relationship that transcended business — it was personal.
I reflect on our personal experience because I believe our relationship with Norm and Marlene is similar to many of those within GMDC who were privileged to know them and work with Norm. His positive, upbeat approach to people, business and life in general was infectious — not to mention that incredible smile and hardy laugh of his. He was a person who truly loved spending time with others, and more than anything, he valued the opportunity to mentor those who were coming up through the ranks. Ask Peter Thompson, Joe Bivona, Jim Wonderly and Brian Bradley how Norm impacted their professional and personal lives.
Norm’s legacy will always include the honors and accomplishments he achieved as a business person. We’re incredibly proud that he was the recipient of the 2005 GMDC Lifetime Achievement Award. However, from my perspective, the true legacy of Norm was the way he — along with Marlene — taught a younger generation of leaders how to make time for anyone and everyone regardless of their business value to your company. With Norm, it was always about your value as a person, and he truly loved people.
The great love of his life, Marlene, and their children — Brenda, Jeff and their families — were the absolute center of Norm’s universe, and our hearts collectively go out to all of them for their loss. Hopefully they will find solace in the fact that their husband, father and grandfather had such a profound impact on so many. We’ll miss you Norm and look forward to a glass of Silver Oak and a good cigar when we meet again someday! Cheers, my friend.
Dave McConnell is president and CEO of the Global Market Development Center.
Study: Walmart, Safeway rank high on consumer charity donations
CHICAGO — Cause Marketing Forum on Wednesday named America’s Checkout Charity Champions, a first-of-its-kind study ranking the largest consumer checkout donations in the United States last year.
“American companies are bonding with consumers, turning on employees and raising big bucks for worthy groups by requesting donations at the point of sale,” stated David Hessekiel, president of Cause Marketing Forum. “This study is the first to recognize the leading programs, to measure how much they raise and to share best practices that will help companies and causes produce even more successful point of sale fundraising campaigns in the future.” More than $358 million was raised in 2012 though a total of 63 corporate-backed campaigns identified by Cause Marketing Forum. Large charity checkout programs have raised over $2.3 billion in the last 30 years, the study reported.
The largest in-store program of 2012, a six-week Miracle Balloon Campaign by Walmart and Sam’s Club, brought in $41.6 million to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Since 1987, the annual campaign by Walmart and Sam’s Club has raised more than $556.8 million for CMNH.
While most initiatives involved brick-and-mortar retailers, the number one donation-producing program in 2012 was eBay Giving Works: its U.S. participants generated more than $54 million for nonprofits. Throughout the year, eBay Giving Works empowers sellers to earmark a percentage of their sales proceeds to charity and also invites buyers to make voluntary contributions. Since 2003, eBay Giving Works has generated more than $240 million in charitable donations, according to Cause Marketing Forum.
Safeway had the most campaigns in the top 10 list with four supermarket checkout efforts raising a collective $38.4 million to fight breast cancer, prostate cancer and muscular dystrophy and to help people with disabilities, the Forum noted.
The top 10 checkout donation campaigns of 2012 ranked by amount raised were:eBay/Giving Works — $54 million to over 22,000 U.S. nonprofit organizations via seller contributions and donations at checkout; Walmart & Sam’s Club/Miracle Balloon Campaign — $41.6 million to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals via paper icon sales; McDonald’s/Coin Donation Box Program — $27.9 million to Ronald McDonald House Charities via coins collection at register; Costco Wholesale/May Icon Campaign — $14.4 million to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals via paper icon sales; Safeway/Breast Cancer Awareness fundraiser — $12.4 million to hundreds of Breast Cancer organizations via donation request at checkout; Safeway/People with Disabilities — $9.2 million to Easter Seals, Special Olympics, Rebuilding Together and other charities via donation request at checkout; Safeway/Prostate Cancer Awareness and Research — $9.2 million to The Prostate Cancer Foundation via donation request at checkout; Walgreens/Way to Well — $8.5 million to Susan G. Komen for the Cure via donation request at checkout; KMART/March of Dimes Fundraising Campaign — $8 million to the March of Dimes via donation request at checkout; Safeway/Muscular Dystrophy Association — $7.6 million to the Muscular Dystrophy Association via donation request at checkout.
Advancing pharmacy management service
Like drinking from a fire hose. That’s one way some pharmacy retailers might describe their efforts to manage the flood of data unleashed every day by their prescription dispensing operations. The goal: to turn that data flow into actionable information they can use to better manage pharmacy workflow and staff resources, boost profitability, reduce customer wait times and make more informed decisions about the capital every retail pharmacy must allocate to technology and staffing. Johnson City, N.Y.-based Innovation has developed a new tool it claims will tame the data beast and put it to work as a pharmacy management and profit-building ally. Known for its PharmASSIST product line, which includes robotics and other automated dispensing systems, and the PharmASSIST Symphony workflow software for prescription processing and tracking, Innovation has partnered with Binghamton University’s Watson Institute for Systems Excellence, or WISE, to launch a new service for informed retail pharmacy management.
The service, called Pharmacy Intelligence, applies application-based data analytics, computer-animated graphic process simulation and Lean Six Sigma principles to enable a new level of more advanced modeling and forecasting. Retailers can use the service, says Doyle Jensen, Innovation’s EVP global business development, to analyze their current pharmacy workflow, physical configuration and methods; model new “what if” scenarios that could improve workflow and results; and forecast the impact that process changes could have on pharmacy operations and financial results. DSN spoke with Jensen to learn more about Pharmacy Intelligence and how it differs from current pharmacy applications. Here are excerpts from that interview:
DSN: Innovation’s mission seems to be evolving beyond pharmacy automation and dispensing technology. What’s happening?
Jensen: We’re rolling out a new identity campaign about Innovation. Robotics is just a small piece of what we do. Our whole identity is about … optimizing outcomes through pharmacy intelligence. We already have these partnerships with chain pharmacy in place, and through our alliance with the Watson Institute, which has one of the biggest supercomputers in the eastern United States, we’re actually able to help people predict outcomes.
DSN: What does that mean for the pharmacy industry, which has come to know Innovation as a provider of pharmacy workplace hardware and software?
Jensen: We want to empower people with the information to make a decision. We live in a world of data — and every pharmacy chain tracks everything they can. But each person of decision-making influence at that chain wants the intelligence that comes from that data, so they can make a strategic impact on their business. That’s what we mean by pharmacy intelligence. It gives you actionable information that can impact your business in your specific area.
It’s like when Apollo 13 was running out of oxygen. NASA used simulations to solve the crisis. They ran every scenario and simulation to see the outcome before they had the astronauts execute it in the capsule. Those are the types of tools we’re bringing to our pharmacy clients. Instead of going through all these expensive, slow and arduous pilot processes, we can give them the tools to predict the impact of a change in workflow or process or automation without ever touching their business — and with a high level of confidence and very small investment.
At the DSN roundtable in December, one thing I heard from the other speakers is, ‘We have capital available to improve our enterprise, but we have a lot of projects competing for that capital.’ They need help deciding what project would give them the biggest bang for their buck. So the competition for capital can be prioritized.
DSN: Talk about the solutions Pharmacy Intelligence is set up to provide.
Jensen: It’s about modeling. With Pharmacy Intelligence, we can help a chain create simulations that account for both the human factor — being able to predict outcomes based on your personnel — and the technology side, including workflow and process simulation. We’re able to look at the ways your technology and software can be impacted by making changes. On both of those, the human and technology sides, we can put your pharmacies into these models, and through this process give you predictive outcomes.
We’re looking at inefficiencies in the process … and better utilization of your resources. A lot of people are managing defensively and reacting. We want to give them the power to go on the offense, and model things in advance instead of reacting to a problem. Like, what if we set up or planogram our pharmacy completely differently? What if we give the customer an interface with a kiosk? Or put in a new queuing system?
If we stood in your business and took a video camera and watched it, it would tell us the same thing as the data. And that is actually part of our process sometimes, where we deploy professional services to capture your process on video.
DSN: So you’re saying that Pharmacy Intelligence can model ‘what if’ scenarios, and even weigh the costs and benefits of one process or system vs. another?
Jensen: That’s one example. Another real-world example is using it to model central fill. These are costly high-end systems, so the question becomes whether pharmacy retailers invest in this large capital expenditure. The prescription-processing cost of central fill is a lot lower than processing in the store. So we work with the retailer to design a central fill system, forecast its results, and then provide them with the detail to prove out their return on investment.
Another aspect of central fill that some chains don’t think about is the redeployment of their in-store pharmacy staff. They all … want to do more MTM, more immunizations and more true patient care. So we can help them model what the redeployment of those assets would look like. It’s making the best use of your pharmacists and resources.
DSN: In your own words, what makes Pharmacy Intelligence unique and different, say, from Innovation’s Symphony software package for pharmacy workflow?
Jensen: Pharmacy Intelligence is a unique service; it’s not a product that a pharmacy can purchase and integrate with their other systems. It’s also independent of whether they use our PharmASSIST products or not. They could use anybody’s workflow, and this service would benefit them. Through this service we can help them model a specific piece of technology to look for inefficiencies and predict various outcomes. And we can look at the way a human is processing prescriptions, and look for efficiencies.
DSN: Can you give a specific example?
Jensen: Almost every chain today, when they process a prescription, will preprint all the patient information and paperwork and place it with the order. How many people really want that information? Imagine even the green impact alone … if 90% of those prescriptions didn’t generate that paperwork any more.
So say you’re thinking about putting print-on-demand paperwork in place, at the discretion of the customer. How would that affect your ability to serve customers? Does it create bottlenecks in your process? Does it improve patient care or customer satisfaction? In the past, the only way you could really look at that was to do all the coding or run a pilot. But through this process and this modeling, we can predict the outcome with a high level of confidence before you spend a dollar on changing your system or potentially impacting your customers. We can help you see whether that print-on-demand feature is going to lengthen the checkout process by creating a higher workload at that point in the process. And we can run it across different scenarios, like higher-volume stores or slower and less productive employees.
DSN: We’re not talking necessarily, then, about installing any more technology or new counting systems. It’s more holistic.
Jensen: Exactly. We do have new retail technologies that are unique. But we don’t want to sell somebody something they don’t need. We’re technology-agnostic. So we may be working with technology from our competition and telling our customer how to use it more efficiently. We’re not out to sell unnecessary technology; we’re out to improve process.
We recently had a customer who wanted to implement a new piece of technology, which had a very high cost point. We were able to simulate their production system and find that it would not give them the increased production that they thought it would. The simulation also showed that if we made a very simple low cost change, it would result in the production increase they were looking for.
DSN: So you can use Pharmacy Intelligence to analyze whatever system they have, or you can use it to help design a new system? Can it make that big a difference in the way the data is analyzed and turned into actionable information?
Jensen: That’s a great summary. It’s about identifying and implementing the right technology and the right process for that exact location, customized at the store level or central fill. Each store and central fill has differences — in destination, in formularies, order mix, throughput differences, the rate at which the staff works, the peaks in their daily workflow. Pharmacy Intelligence allows us to create models based on all of these characteristics.
DSN: How does the service help you model an untried scenario with a new client?
Jensen: Our professional services and WISE partners develop a process plan, which includes a data-gathering phase, data validation phase, data analysis, model simulation, and model validation.
Through this, Pharmacy Intelligence assesses operational risks, optimizes system designs and processes, and accurately forecasts the results. The customer gets substantiated answers before they invest, and they don’t incur the costs of building and proving out a live production system.
DSN: How do you engage a pharmacy or chain for the Pharmacy Intelligence service?
Jensen: We’ll meet with the client, discuss what they’re trying to accomplish … and recommend project options we believe make the most sense for them.
We’ll then define what type of data collection process we’ll go through. That could mean we actually go out and observe and record workflow.
From that, we’ll develop and present the model. We graphically show them a representation of what’s going on in their pharmacy — with the pharmacists, the techs, the automation, everything integrated and moving around, including dispensing rates, the workflow, the process, the times of day business is affected. We can say, ‘Here’s what the data show … now here’s what we recommend for improvement.’