Report: Walgreens places pharmacists in the aisles armed with iPads
CHICAGO — Walgreens may be on the verge of revolutionizing the role of the pharmacist — the pharmacy operator is placing iPads in the hands of "health guides" across 20 pilot stores in Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday.
The Internet-armed pharmacist is one of the healthcare innovations Walgreens showcased at the TEDMED conference in San Diego last month. Features of those stores include a pharmacist desk area in front of the pharmacy counter to provide greater customer access to the pharmacist; private and semi-private consultation rooms; an open and redesigned layout with expanded fresh food and beauty products, with more accessible shelving and checkout lines; and such technology as Walgreens Web Pickup, which allows customers to order online and pick up at the store and touchscreen kiosks that allow patients to quickly refill prescriptions.
“The concept is meant to create a pharmacy and health care ‘help desk’ where customers get solutions or referrals for their personal health questions,” Colin Watts, Walgreens chief innovation officer, told the Chicago daily.
The report identifies the bigger picture behind the implementation of the health guides. Beyond offering a greater level of personalized service, these guides help crystallize the role of the pharmacist beyond adjudicating prescriptions by increasing potential patient-pharmacist consultations.
A Chicago-based company, M-Healthcoach, won a competition against 24 other companies nationwide to develop the apps for Walgreen’s health guide initiative.
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Bill to incentivize generic use in Medicaid introduced in Congress
WASHINGTON — A bill proposed in Congress would give states incentives for using generic drugs through the Medicaid program.
The Affordable Medicines Utilization Act, proposed by Rep. Charles Bass, R-N.H., is similar to a bill with the same title introduced in the Senate in July that would encourage states to increase generic drug use by Medicaid patients by letting the states keep part of the difference the federal government receives between the cost of the generic drug and the cost of the branded drug. That bill remains in the early stages of the legislative process, according to GovTrack, a website that tracks the development of legislation.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores heralded the legislation.
"The majority of Medicaid prescriptions — 70% — are filled by chain pharmacies," the organization wrote in a letter to Rep. Bass. "Local pharmacies across the country work with state Medicaid programs to promote best practices, and help to implement policies that promote the use of generic medications. Increasing generic utilization is the most effective way to control prescription drug costs."
The legislation also drew praise from the Generic Pharmaceutical Association.
"This legislation is exactly the kind of common-sense solution those in Washington should look to when searching for ways to rein in our country’s health care spending,” GPhA president and CEO Ralph Neas said. "Greater use of generic medications is a safe and effective way to reduce costs while providing patients with the quality care they need."
Meijer looks to turn pharmacists into go-to diabetes resources
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Meijer has launched a chainwide effort to position its pharmacy staff as diabetes specialists.
The announcement was made by Effie Steele, the chain’s clinical services manager.
"A community pharmacist is an important first line of defense for diabetes and other diseases," Steele said. "So it was imperative that we placed more trained experts within our pharmacies for the benefit of our customers. Diabetes is a disease that has hit the Midwest hard, and there truly is an urgent need to take a much more active and aggressive role in combating it."
To aid the launch of the initiative, all 197 Meijer pharmacies will host a diabetes care event this Saturday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. The event will include free blood -glucose testing, as well as a free pharmacy patient education and sample kit. Meijer diabetes care pharmacists also will be on hand to assist with questions and explain Meijer’s free metformin prescription program.