PHARMACY

Tech, interconnectivity 
focus of NCPDP summit

BY Amanda Baltazar

Technology is not only bringing more benefits to patients in the pharmacy, but it’s also offering them a host of products so they can be more involved in their health care. This was a theme at the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs’ educational summit, “Leveraging New Technologies: Impact on the Patient and the Healthcare Industry,” on Feb. 8 in Las Vegas.


Devices from blood-glucose monitors to personal EKG machines have been around for a while, but now these products talk to each other. They also tie in with exercise machines and physical activity monitors to send information to a patient’s smart phone. This allows patients to monitor their own health and easily send snapshots of health data to a physician, caregiver or pharmacist.


Combining physical activity and health monitoring is a prominent, practical implementation of device connectivity. There is now a range of fitness products that can be used for health care — straps to measure breathing or heart rate, for example — that will send information to a phone. That information can then be amalgamated with that from other health devices to provide a broader picture of a consumer’s health.


“The interconnectivity of devices is a key thing right now,” said Scott Robertson, co-chair of the NCPDP educational programs committee and principal technology consultant in health IT strategy and policy for Kaiser Permanente Information Technology. “That information can be forwarded from a smart phone or computer (a hub) to a caregiver, doctor or pharmacist, so if [patients are] starting to go in the wrong direction, they can get feedback quickly.”


However, Robertson sounded a note of caution. It’s worth thinking about the security of all of this data that consumers are collecting and sending, Robertson advised. It may not seem of any importance if a person’s blood-pressure readings fall into the wrong hands; but at some point, it could be very disadvantageous.

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NewsBytes on WAG’s Rx purchasing team, WMT’s Duncan Mac Naughton, CVS Q4 results and more

BY DSN STAFF

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens this month rounded out the pharmacy purchasing team led by Jeff Berkowitz, who joined the company in the fall as SVP pharmaceutical development and market access.


The team includes Frank DeStefano, promoted to group VP pharmacy purchasing and supply chain and responsible for all branded and generic pharmaceutical purchases and pharmacy inventory optimization across the company’s retail, mail, specialty, home infusion, on-site and work-site pharmacy units; Mike Bleser, promoted to divisional VP pharmacy supply chain and analytics and responsible for strategic management of pharmacy inventory across Walgreens; Mike Allen, promoted to divisional VP generic pharmacy purchasing and strategy and responsible for all generic drug purchasing; Jeff Foreman, who joins Walgreens from Cardinal Health as divisional VP brand pharmaceutical wholesaler and vaccine purchasing; and Gerry Gleeson, who joins Walgreens from Merck as divisional VP of pharmaceutical development responsible for optimizing Walgreens’ relationships with pharmaceutical manufacturers.


BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart named Duncan Mac Naughton chief merchandising officer for the company’s U.S. division, less than three months after he was named EVP merchandising.


In other company news, Walmart named Cindy Davis EVP global consumer insights, a new business unit for the company. Davis previously served as EVP membership and marketing for Sam’s Club.



CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Sanofi-Aventis has agreed to acquire U.S. biotech giant Genzyme for $20.1 billion. Sanofi plans to make Genzyme its “global center for excellence” in rare diseases.



WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark reported that fourth-quarter net revenues dipped 4.1% to $24.8 billion, with net income of $1.03 billion compared with $1.05 billion the prior year. Retail pharmacy revenues rose 3.1% to $14.9 billion during the three-month period ended Dec. 31, 2010. Same-store sales increased 1.7%, with front-end comps up 1% and pharmacy comps up 2%, driven by a 220 basis point improvement from 
Maintenance Choice.

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THE CLINICS: Helping ‘Take Care’ of primary care shortage

BY Antoinette Alexander

With pharmaceutical and healthcare expenditures on the rise, a primary care shortage at hand and an expected upswing in patients diagnosed with chronic diseases, there’s no denying that the marketplace is in the midst of an evolution. Despite the challenges, Walgreens’ health-and-wellness division has positioned itself for such changes and, according to headquarter executives, has a winning strategy in place — broadening and deepening its payer relationships.


“One area that payer communities all have in common is the need to measure, deliver and improve outcomes, which encompass providing accessible, high-quality care at reduced costs,” Hal Rosenbluth, SVP and president of Walgreens Health and Wellness, told analysts during a presentation in late 2010. “If done properly, this will provide for a happier, more productive and healthier work force and 
member community.”


Walgreens defines payer communities as employers, health plans, health systems, PBMs, government and individual and small businesses. With about 360 retail-based Take Care Clinics stretched across 19 states, and some 368 employer-based health, pharmacy and fitness centers nationwide, Walgreens Health and Wellness offers an expanded scope of services that it says provide a solution to part — if not all — of the needs of different payer groups.


“Whether by helping hospitals reduce the cost of readmission, assisting employers in reducing pharmacy spend or providing greater access to specialty drugs and healthcare services, Walgreens has the solutions payers need for their constituents, whether at work, in their neighborhood or at home,” Rosenbluth said.


One example of this: Harrah’s Showboat casino in Atlantic City, N.J. The casino’s on-site Health and Wellness Center, operated by Walgreens’ Take Care Health Systems employer services group, opened in 2005. During its first year of operation, the facility was seeing about 26 patients a day, 
Emily Gaines, VP compensation, benefits and HRSS for Harrah’s Entertainment, told Drug Store News. By 2010, the center was seeing an average of 65 patients a day and was up to about 17,000 visits a year out of the facility.


Health systems also are facing their share of challenges, as many will be judged and, in some cases, reimbursed based on patient satisfaction, outcomes and the pooling of resources. Rosenbluth noted that, again, this is where Walgreens can step in. “Not a week goes by where we are not approached or approaching hospital systems with solutions, including our hospital on-site pharmacy, in-store Take Care Clinics, infusion centers, home care services and medication fulfillment choices to aid in their own micro-healthcare ecosystems,” Rosenbluth said. “As you can see by now, this is thematic in our approach to the needs of the healthcare marketplace. By helping others we, in turn, are helping ourselves.”


To better address the unique needs of each payer segment —whether it be employers, health systems, health plans, PBMs, government or individual and small businesses — Walgreens Health and Wellness recently revamped its sales and account management organization to better focus on bringing all of Walgreens’ healthcare assets to market. The revamped sales team is comprised of sales and client service executives with experience across all of the payer segments.


“Our approach is to bring all of Walgreens’ asset solutions to each segment, whether online, offline or in person,” Rosenbluth said. “Each payer has a unique set of capabilities and, combined with our solution set, they can each now go to market with a differentiated offering and, in turn, become an additional sales channel for Walgreens’ products and services. … Now, rather than primarily being a provider of pharmacy benefit services, we have developed a much broader set of strategic and consultative relationships in the marketplace.”

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