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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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SoloHealth kiosks link patients to information

BY Michael Johnsen

Targeting more than 4,000 health kiosks to be located within retail pharmacy centers by year end, SoloHealth has positioned its health solution as one of the natural conduits linking patient care, health information and OTC value. Already SoloHealth has connected with the likes of the William J. Clinton Foundation’s 2013 Clinton Health Matters Initiative, along with such other companies as General Electric, Humana and Tenet Healthcare. As part of this initiative, SoloHealth has been charged with building and distributing a tobacco-cessation education module across its SoloHealth Station kiosks.

"We are thrilled to be expanding our free healthcare access platform," stated SoloHealth CEO Bart Foster. "By end of March, we will be within a 10 minute drive-time of 48% of the U.S. population. … As we grow, we are exploring many new ways we can leverage our versatile platform to continue to help better our nation’s health and healthcare system."

Daily consumer usage has reached approximately 85,000 interactions, and approximately 33% of users take more than one test, with blood pressure and BMI being the most common combination.

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Safeway collaborates with pharmacy school on smoking-cessation

BY Michael Johnsen

One of the ways retailers help consumers realize their full healthcare value is through the kind of outcome management Safeway pharmacists adopted earlier this year to help people quit smoking. Safeway pharmacists have received specialized training — developed by the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy — that covers optimal smoking-cessation counseling techniques.

The program developed for Safeway uses a streamlined version of Rx for Change, a tobacco-cessation training program that UCSF pharmacy faculty created to train healthcare providers nationwide. This project fundamentally redesigns how pharmacists work with patients, from simply offering smoking-cessation medications behind a counter to active clinical involvement.

"Pharmacists are often the most accessible healthcare provider for patients within their own communities, but we haven’t maximized their expertise in that setting," stated Joseph Guglielmo, Jr., interim dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy. "This project offers Safeway customers the full patient care skill set of pharmacists."

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