Schnucks tackles chronic conditions
On top of its 101 in-store pharmacies, Schnucks last year opened four specialty pharmacies, offering specialized services to patients.
The pharmacies offer services for patients living with such chronic conditions as HIV, cancer, multiple sclerosis and autoimmune diseases, as well as for people recovering from organ transplants, said company spokesman Paul Simon. “It’s for patients who require special attention and hard-to-source medication,” he added.
Of the four specialty pharmacies, two are within Schnucks stores, beside the regular pharmacy, and two are stand-alone stores in medical offices. The stores have been introduced over the past two years, and more could be introduced going forward.
The specialty pharmacies run largely by appointment because these patients typically need a lot of counseling and one-on-one services. “The goal is to make life a little bit easier for the patient,” Simon explained, “with lots of counseling, advice [and] information on how to manage their condition, drugs, insurance, etc.”
Free home delivery and refill-reminder phone calls are two other services the specialty pharmacies provide. In Schnucks regular pharmacies, the chain continues its successful programs of $4 generic drugs and free antibiotics and prenatal vitamins. Immunizations also draw customers.
Within the regular pharmacies, Schnucks offers diabetes education through its certified diabetes educator pharmacists. As word spreads, more diabetes patients are taking advantage of this program, Simon pointed out.
Another service the pharmacies offer is a vision-screening test. “It’s no substitution for a trip to the eye doctor, but it’s a good indication if there should be a trip to the eye doctor — and it’s free,” Simon said. The stores also provide information on local eye doctors for patients who need it.
And finally, the Schnucks stores are a hub for a twice-weekly mammography van run by Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
Pharmacy, makeover lifts Fred’s sales
Fred’s last year migrated its more than 300 pharmacies to a more convenient front-of-store position in an effort to boost pharmacy revenue — and it worked. Fred’s 2010 pharmacy sales growth of 4.8% outpaced the discounter’s overall sales growth of 3% for the year. At the time Fred’s began executing against the pharmacy makeover, the company reported that test stores featuring front-of-store pharmacies enjoyed 20% higher sales per square foot as compared with the company’s average.
Fred’s opened 21 new pharmacies throughout fiscal 2010 and plans additional pharmacy location growth of between 10 and 15 in 2011. “Pharmacy expansion not only enhances margins; it also serves as a proven driver of customer trips and loyalty,” Bruce Efird, Fred’s CEO, told analysts in March.
Fred’s pharmacy department also was successful in administering 7% more immunizations to patients in 2010 — that’s a build on top of the 17% increase in immunizations Fred’s realized in 2010 vs. 2009 because of H1N1.
Fred’s also will continue to emphasize the better merchandising mixes to come out of its Core 5 program, which is designed to highlight five strong trip-driving departments where Fred’s feels it has a marketable advantage over other small-box competitors — notably pharmacy, celebration and party, pet products, paper and chemical, and home products. By the end of 2010, Fred’s had roughly 30% of its store base in the Core 5 layout, which features improved merchandising, signage and adjacencies.
And while Fred’s projects flat comparable pharmacy sales across 2011 because of the number of branded pharmaceuticals losing patent protection and pharmacy reimbursement pressures on the average manufacturing price at the state level, Efird tabbed pharmacy as a key growth driver for Fred’s. “On average, stores with pharmacies have higher front-end traffic, consistently performing at 10% or better than stores without pharmacies,” he said.
Kerr expands health focus beyond stores
Kerr Drug describes its free prescription delivery service — launched in fall 2010 and renewed to positive customer response for 2011 — as “old school innovation.” If “old school” means anticipating consumers’ health and everyday-product needs, and meeting them with a down-home approach to store service and a broader-than-usual menu of pharmacy care options, then the tag could apply to Kerr’s entire business strategy.
The chain has pruned its retail network to a core group of 76 high-yield drug stores and a number of clinical pharmacies, all in North Carolina, as well as a combination specialty pharmacy and mail-order center in its home market of Raleigh. “We have fewer properties now, but all of them are excellent,” asserted Diane Eliezer, Kerr’s director of marketing.
After developing a groundbreaking array of retail health services offered through a variety of drug store formats, Kerr remains one of chain pharmacy’s most innovative retail health providers. With the launch last year of Kerr Health, a separate division devoted to providing clinical pharmacy and wellness services directly to employers, long-term care facilities and other entities, the company has broadened its health focus well beyond the drug store setting.
Ten Kerr stores still feature “an expanded clinical presence” ranging from “a clinical office that does screenings” to “a full Community Care Center,” Eliezer told Drug Store News. These days, however, the chain’s highly regarded clinical pharmacy team is “out of the store as much or more than they’re in,” she said, as they provide immunizations, health screenings and other services to business and community organizations through Kerr Health.
“Originally, we thought there would be much more of a retail application with that, but it turns out that has not grown as quickly as we’d hoped. But there’s a great deal of business … out of the store, as well as [medication therapy management] and immunizations in the store,” Eliezer explained.
Meanwhile, the chain maintains its pioneering approach to community-based health care. Kerr was the first drug chain, for instance, to launch ActiveCare’s ActiveOne PAL, or personal assistance link, a rapid-response system that links seniors via a one-touch cell phone link to emergency health providers.