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Take Care Clinics offering Medicare wellness visits

BY Antoinette Alexander

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. — Take Care Health Systems, which is owned by Walgreens, now is providing wellness services for Medicare enrollees at all Take Care Clinic locations throughout the country, the retail health clinic operator announced on Thursday.

The Welcome to Medicare Preventive Visits and Medicare Yearly Wellness Visits are wellness services for Medicare enrollees, which include screenings for a number of common conditions, as well as education and counseling to encourage wellness and prevent disease.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, only 6.5% of eligible seniors have used their Medicare Wellness Visit benefit. The benefit is available upon enrollment and then once a year with no out-of-pocket costs. With locations inside more than 360 Walgreens and convenient hours, Take Care Health is aiming to remove barriers to healthcare access that may prevent Medicare enrollees from easily accessing care.

“A focus on preventive health care and wellness can play an integral role in improving health outcomes and reducing costs,” stated Sandy Ryan, chief nurse practitioner officer for Take Care Health Systems. “By providing a simple and easy access point, Take Care Health hopes to help more patients gain the full benefit of their Medicare coverage so they can focus on getting and staying well.”

Upon completion of a Welcome to Medicare Preventive Visit or Medicare Yearly Wellness Visit at a Take Care Clinic, a Take Care Health provider will deliver a personalized wellness plan to each patient with clear explanations of findings and recommendations. A summary of the visit, with patient permission, will also be shared with each patient’s primary care provider and health plan. Information sharing between Take Care Health and a patient’s Medicare Advantage plan provider is enabled by the electronic medical record system utilized at all Take Care Clinics.

Seniors taking advantage of the no out-of-pocket cost services have the opportunity to gain insight on proactive steps to improve their health and to identify undiagnosed conditions. In turn, Medicare Wellness Visits through Take Care Clinics may help Medicare Advantage plans improve the quality of care they offer to their membership as measured by the CMS Five-Star Quality Rating System and National Center for Quality Assurance Health Effectiveness Data and Information Set guidelines.

The Welcome to Medicare Preventive Visit and Medicare Yearly Wellness Visits are fully covered services at Take Care Clinic for all Medicare Part B members and for millions of patients enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans who have contracted with Take Care Health Systems.

“By expanding our relationship with Take Care Clinic and Walgreens, we were able to strengthen our commitment to offer convenient access to high-quality preventive care to our Medicare Advantage members,” said Nancy Cocozza, SVP Medicare at Coventry Health Care. “We’re pleased that greater access to preventive services at Take Care Clinics will make preventive care even more available to Coventry’s members and improve their health and well-being.”

Take Care Clinics are professional healthcare centers located at more than 360 select Walgreens drug stores across the country that offer walk-in and appointment availability. Board-certified family nurse practitioners and physician assistants treat patients 18 months and older for common illnesses, offer such preventive services as vaccines and physicals and are licensed to write prescriptions, when necessary, that can be filled at the patient’s pharmacy of choice. Patients can visit TakeCareHealth.com to schedule an appointment and to view local and up-to-date information on patient satisfaction scores, market-specific quality of care scores, wait times and service costs.

Walgreens pharmacies offer an array of services to Medicare patients, including direct billing to Medicare Part B and D, administration of Medicare covered immunizations and prescription drug plan reviews by Walgreens pharmacists to help patients pick a plan that best fits their medication needs.


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TIBCO drives consumer intelligence for Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy with loyalty program

BY Michael Johnsen

PALO ALTO, Calif. — TIBCO Software on Thursday announced that Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy will be leveraging loyalty management solutions from TIBCO Loyalty Lab as part of a loyalty card program.

TIBCO has helped facilitate the launch of Pharmaca’s Feel Better Rewards Program at 24 locations and has helped the regional operator mine that loyalty data across departments and ascertain what customers were buying and why, when they made purchases and how often, as well as what constituted their overall marketbasket. With TIBCO Loyalty Lab, Pharmaca now has 150,000 members with 65% of its sales on the program, TIBCO reported.

The Feel Better Rewards Program helps drive sales across categories with a quarterly dividend program to drive frequency, program adoption and engagement.

"We saw a 50% increase in the percent of customers cross-shopping retail and pharmacy and a 10% to 15% increase in per-member spending since we launched the program," stated Laura Coblentz, VP marketing and innovation Pharmaca.

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Rite Aid posts strong Q4, FY2012

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Despite running fewer stores, Rite Aid grew its sales and narrowed its losses during the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2012, thanks to a boost in its loyalty card program membership, a longer fiscal year and the continuing dispute between Walgreens and Express Scripts.

Much of the 4,667-store chain’s continued success was owed to the Wellness+ loyalty card program. The number of members of the program grew to 52 million from 36 million at the end of fiscal year 2011, including a 16% growth in active members, to 25 million. Members accounted for 74% of front-end sales and 68% of prescriptions filled, with increases in the number of gold and silver members, and members overall showing higher retention rates in the pharmacy than nonmembers.

Discussing improvements in the program’s numbers in a conference call with investors Thursday morning, president and CEO John Standley said the company was "committed to making it even better while finding more ways to deliver more value to our most loyal customers."

These include plans to expand delivery of targeted offers to members in fiscal year 2013, Standley said. To an extent, the company already has done this with Wellness+ for Diabetes, which it launched in September 2011, as well as other enhancements to the program, such as "wellness rewards" for members that include magazine subscriptions and gym memberships and Load2Card, which allows users to download coupons to their cards.

Another initiative that saw expansion was the Wellness store format, with 280 stores converted to the new format at the end of the quarter and plans to convert another 500 in fiscal year 2013. Standley said most of the stores in the chain — between two-thirds and three-quarters — would be converted, with an emphasis on the better-performing "top guns."

Standley also brushed off concerns about a congressional inquiry into the stores Wellness Ambassadors, specially trained staff with iPads who answer customers’ questions about dietary supplements and over-the-counter medications and directing customers to the pharmacist for further information. The inquiry centered on allegations by a political advocacy group that the Wellness Ambassadors were making health claims about OTC products not verified by the Food and Drug Administration, though the company already has hired 400 of them and did not expect their role to change.

In terms of the Wellness stores’ performance, the company was starting to see a "positive impact" on front-end sales, though pharmacy sales continued to lag, though Standley said this was expected, and the company hoped to see comps at 3% above the rest of the chain in the stores; most of the $250,000 invested in each store tended to focus on the front end. "We’re making some solid progress there," Standley said.

Meanwhile, the company saw improvements in the back end as well. The number of flu immunizations doubled to 1.5 million, while the number of same-store prescriptions filled in fourth quarter increased by 2.4% over fourth quarter 2011, a number that included a benefit from the contractual dispute between Express Scripts and Walgreens. Increased interest from some outside parties in narrow networks was another consequence of the Walgreens-ESI tiff. "I think we’re seeing more inquiries about narrow networks, but we also hear from consultants that not many clients are interested in it," Standley said, saying that the concept was "a little nerve-wracking."

Despite speculation earlier in the year that Rite Aid would become an acquisition target for Walgreens, the subject didn’t come up during the call, and Guggenheim Securities analyst John Heinbockel wrote in a report that the prospects of an acquisition were "unlikely."

All in all, the company posted a strong quarter and fiscal year. Sales for fourth quarter 2012 were $7.1 billion, while losses were $161.3 million, with a 3% increase in comps. This compared with fourth quarter 2011 sales of $6.5 billion and losses of $205.7 million, with sales receiving a 10.7% boost, thanks to the additional week in fiscal year 2012.

Fiscal year 2012 sales were $26.1 billion, with losses of $368.6 million and a 2% increase in comps. This compared with sales of $25.2 billion in fiscal year 2011 and losses of $555.4 million.

For 2013, the company expects sales of between $25.4 billion and $25.8 billion, with comps remaining flat or increasing by up to 1.5% and losses of between $103 million and $267 million. During the year, the company plans to work expand clinical service offerings in the pharmacy to improve medication adherence and care for diabetes patients. On Tuesday, it announced that it would start offering Rite Care Prescription Advisor reports, which give patients medication adherence scores in the form of easy-to-read line graphs and are based on consultations with pharmacists.

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