Rx focus pulls Kinney through recession
While the economic downturn battered retailers across all channels, new pharmacy services and a new state-of-the-art pharmacy system has helped regional player Kinney Drugs weather the storm.
Kinney Drugs, which opened its first store in 1903 and today operates 90 locations, completed in 2010 the rollout of its new pharmacy system and, as a result, is now able to offer new services such as ReadyScripts. ReadyScripts is an automated refill program that is married with outbound messaging for patient reminders and free prescription delivery for those patients with little or no mobility.
Through a partnership with a central New York hospital, Kinney Drugs also is offering computer-assisted dispensing machines for the home setting and mobility chairs.
Kinney Drugs previously had been providing vaccinations only at its Vermont locations but, thanks to changes in New York state regulations, the retailer is now offering immunizations in its New York pharmacy locations as of mid-2010.
Looking ahead, the company indicated that it is planning to grow its store base by 2% to 4% each year, and also is interested in acquiring independent operators to establish a customer base in new markets.
H-E-B adding clinics, new Rx services
“After all, we’re from around here, too.” That message, delivered to millions of Texas consumers via the pharmacy page on H-E-B’s heavily scanned website, lies at the heart of the San Antonio-based supermarket chain’s seemingly unshakeable grip on both customers and patients in the Lone Star State. The H.E. Butt Grocery Co. maintains high marks for customer loyalty, innovative patient care services, a quality shopping experience and plenty of healthy choices in its food aisles.
H-E-B pharmacists now provide health screenings for blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol every second Saturday of the month from March through October, as well as quarterly A1C exams for patients with diabetes. Those patients also are eligible for a free InControl No Coding starter kit when they fill their first script for a diabetes medication.
H-E-B also builds loyalty with its Rx Rewards Platinum card. For a $5 enrollment fee, the card provides discounts on some 500 generic drugs, vaccinations and pet medicines, as well as free health screenings and free prenatal vitamins. Last summer, the company also extended its reach electronically with the launch of an improved website for prescription renewals and a new link with customers’ mobile phones.
To ward off disease, the company’s pharmacies and clinicians now offer periodic immunizations, not only for flu but also for hepatitis A and B, HPV/cervical cancer, measles, meningitis, pneumonia, shingles and tetanus. That appeal to disease prevention has permeated the food aisles as well; H-E-B promotes healthier nutritional choices with programs like its Fully Fit branding program, which identifies healthy foods throughout the store, and the H-E-Buddy campaign, designed to educate kids about healthier foods and snacks.
In partnership with RediClinic, H-E-B aggressively is expanding its network of in-store clinics. RediClinic revealed last fall it will open another 20 clinics in H-E-B stores this year, nearly doubling its presence within the Texas chain, with a focus on the Austin, Houston and San Antonio regions.
Raley’s continues focus on patient care
Like most retailers in California, combo-store pioneer Raley’s Supermarkets has been in a slow growth mode since the recession began in 2008. “We still have 105 pharmacies, so not a lot has changed in the past few years,” said John Segale, a spokesman for the Sacramento-based chain.
That’s the same number Raley’s had in 2008 when the recession began. Since then, Raley’s has added four supermarkets, raising its total store count from 129 to 133 that operate under four banners, comprising Raley’s (85), Bel-Air (22), Nob Hill (21) and Food Source (5). Food Source is a warehouse-format chain it launched in 1994, while Bel-Air and Nob Hill are small chains it acquired in the 1990s.
Though the pharmacy division hasn’t added new stores, it’s continued to build an already strong slate of educational events, health screenings and special programs for customers. Raley’s newest program is called Pharmacist Care for Diabetes, which was launched in late 2010 with the University of California-San Francisco, insurer Blue Shield and members of the California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS. Under the program, CalPERs members who have diabetes and fill their scripts at Raley’s can have a one-on-one meeting with their pharmacists to develop programs to better manage their blood-sugar levels.
“Through this unique partnership, more patients living with diabetes can receive enhanced support from their pharmacist,” said Raley’s VP pharmacy and healthy lifestyles Flint Pendergraft.
Raley’s also recently launched its ReadyFill program, which notifies customers by phone or email when a script refill is ready for pickup. And its pharmacies offer vaccines for more than a half-dozen diseases.