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Target price matches online retailers

BY Alaric DeArment

MINNEAPOLIS — Target Corp. has launched a campaign to price match online retailers, the mass-merchandise retailer said Tuesday.

The Minneapolis-based retailer said it planned to price match online retailers like Amazon.com, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com and Toysrus.com year-round; Target stores would also price match items on the company’s own website.

Under the policy, if a customer buys a qualifying item at a Target store and then finds the same item for less in the following week’s circular or within seven days on one of the online retailers or a competitors printed ad, Target will match the price.

"Guests can confidently shop at Target every day for the best value in retail," Target president, chairman and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said. "We know that our guests often compare prices online. With our new price-match policy and the additional 5% savings guests receive when they use their REDcard, Target provides an unbeatable value."


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Telemedicine trend gets a boost in Congress

BY Jim Frederick

Widespread reliance on telemedicine to electronically deliver health and pharmacy services to hard-to-reach patients in remote locations is getting closer to reality. And in a fast-evolving health care system struggling to improve access to health services at a lower overall cost, that’s a good thing.

The potential breakthrough for remote-site dispensing and health counseling came in the U.S. House of Representatives. California Democrat Mike Thompson is sponsoring legislation that would eliminate barriers to telemedicine services for all federal health programs.

The so-called Telehealth Promotion Act would effectively allow Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Department of Veterans Affairs and federal employee health plans to provide medical benefits to an estimated 75 million beneficiaries where needed, far from any actual pharmacy or clinic. Through those systems, pharmacists and other health providers could dispense prescriptions and real-time counseling or diagnostics to patients in real time, via remote-site kiosks equipped with two-way video communications and other technologies.

Thompson’s bill would also use financial incentives to encourage hospitals to use telemedicine to lower patients’ readmission rates, and allow accountable care organizations to use telemedicine as a substitute for in-person care.

American Telemedicine Association CEO Jonathan Linkous, called the bill “a major step forward in congressional support for telemedicine,” and is urging supporters to work for its passage.

Pharmacy operators like Thrifty White – which serves hundreds of thousands of customers in far-flung locations across a huge swath of the country’s upper Midwest region – have offered remote-site prescription dispensing and telemedicine services for years. It’s allowed those pharmacy providers to reach patients far from a brick-and-mortar store with pharmacy services, using either a kiosk or a pharmacy technician linked in real time via a live monitor to a pharmacist at a “hub” location.

Advances in mobile health applications for computers, remote-site kiosks and smart phones have accelerated the trend, extending the ability of pharmacies and other health providers to reach patients where they live and work.

It remains to be seen how big a role telemedicine will play in the health care system’s campaign to bring services within easier reach of patients in small towns, rural communities and other areas without easy access to a pharmacy, nurse of primary care physician. But the need for such solutions seems clear and compelling, especially in light of the consolidation of retail pharmacy locations, the disappearance of many family-owned small-town drug stores, and the growing national shortage of primary-care doctors.

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Panasonic ramps up aesthetics in kitchen appliances

BY Jason Owen

LAS VEGAS — Panasonic, a worldwide leader in consumer electronics technology, announced the Panasonic Breakfast Collection from the floor of the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show. The company will offer three small kitchen appliances: a toaster, coffee maker and kettle, each featuring bold aesthetics.

"With our new breakfast collection, Panasonic aimed to create functional small kitchen appliances that offered sleek, modern looks for today’s kitchens," said Nicholas Monaco, product manager of small appliances for Panasonic Consumer Marketing Co. of North America. "Instead of storing a toaster or coffee maker when they aren’t in use, the Panasonic products were designed to stand out and become a part of a consumer’s kitchen."

The Panasonic NT-ZP1 Toaster is designed with transparent glass and stainless steel. The toaster displays seven browning levels, reheat and defrost indicators directly onto the glass front in blue LED, while convenient controls allow for easy selection of menu items. The Panasonic Toaster is equipped with ultra-wide bread slots to fit even thicker styles of bread or bagels and offers a built-in warming rack, ideal for keeping buns and croissants warm prior to eating. Seven browning levels allow users to perfectly toast bread to their desired taste, and a reheat and defrost function makes it quick and easy to toast frozen foods or leftovers.

The Panasonic NC-ZF1 Coffee Maker fuses well-engineered design with modern functionality. Featuring a strong cubic shape and a stainless steel and glass finish, the coffee maker complements any kitchen style. For single users or families who enjoy different strengths of coffee, the aroma selector allows for the easy adjustment of water flow into the pot, making coffee stronger or milder. This function allows multiple users to purchase the same coffee grinds but get a different pot taste based on their needs. An eight-cup capacity double walled stainless steel carafe will help keep coffee warm and fresh, and an automatic shut-off function provides a safety guard for users who may forget to turn off the pot. The Panasonic Coffee Maker also features an easy-to-see water level gauge on the exterior, transparent blue LED to indicate power and a convenient paperless filter.

And the Panasonic NC-ZK1 Kettle offers users a quick and easy way to boil water, without waiting minutes for their traditional tea kettle to heat up on the stove. With a 1.4-L water capacity, the Panasonic Kettle is designed with high-quality stainless steel on both the interior and exterior that can help keep water warm longer. A pop-open top makes filling water a cinch and an ergonomic handle and spout makes it easy to pour water without spilling. The Panasonic Kettle is also equipped with a washable scale filter to prevent scale particles from entering a user’s drinking water. Family-friendly features include a cool-touch exterior and automatic shut-off.

All three products in the Panasonic Breakfast Collection will be available this May in two color options, violet or smoke. Pricing and availability will be announced prior to shipment.


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