PHARMACY

Universal American pilots Rx network emphasizing pharmacist-practitioner collaboration

BY Michael Johnsen

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Universal American announced Monday that the Accountable Care Coalition of the Tri-Counties, a Medicare Shared Savings Program ACO formed with primary care physicians in Charleston, S.C., will conduct a pilot with a network of independently-owned pharmacies. The pharmacies are part of Community PerformanceRx MSO, the first nationally-integrated pharmacy management services organization and a wholly owned subsidiary of PrescribeWellness.

“We are eager to launch a pilot that encourages primary care physicians and pharmacies to work together," stated Michael Barrett, SVP  Southeast Region for Collaborative Health Systems, a subsidiary of Universal American, and member of the governing body of ACC of the Tri-Counties. "The medical community struggles with managing medication from a cost and patient safety perspective. We believe these challenges can be addressed through closer collaboration between physicians and pharmacists given the invaluable role pharmacists play in supporting patients’ health.”

“Pharmacists offer expertise in medication optimization and polypharmacy risk assessment," commented Mindy Smith, VP pharmacy practice innovation for PrescribeWellness. "They also have strong loyalties within their community that can help address patient engagement problems common among the Medicare population. As healthcare shifts from fee-for-service to value-based models the focus is on driving higher quality and reducing unnecessary costs. The pilot is an exciting opportunity to leverage the skills and relationships of independent community pharmacies to achieve these goals in partnership with ACO primary care physicians.”

Primary care physicians of the ACO will collaborate with independent community pharmacies to demonstrate that a comprehensive care model that includes pharmacies drives better patient health outcomes and improves preventive care. The physicians and pharmacists will share patient data and engage in frequent communication to offer evaluation of polypharmacy risk and predictive outcomes among beneficiaries in the ACO.

Community PerformanceRx is seeking to build partnerships in a variety of reimbursement models, including risk sharing. The pilot is expected to open the doors to discussions with additional ACOs, Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Part D plans, Independent Physician Associations, collaborative care model commercial plans, self-insured employers and physician MSOs who are or will be taking pharmacy cost risk.
 

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Fred’s sets forth game plan for future growth

BY Brian Berk

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred’s acknowledged it had a tough fiscal third quarter, but the company is making many changes and looking forward to a brighter future.

Looking back on its Q3, the Memphis-based retailer reported a net loss of $38.4 million for the quarter ended Oct. 29, compared to $1.4 million in net income in the year-ago period. On a per-share basis, it lost $1.05 per share. The loss adjusted for non-recurring costs, was 27 cents per share.

Fred’s revenue decreased 4.5% to $516.6 million in the period. Same-store sales fell 3.8%.

“I want to be clear that the performance we saw this quarter is not acceptable to myself, the senior leadership team, our board, and the entire team here at Fred's,” said CEO Mike Bloom. “The weakness that we saw in the second quarter continued into the third quarter, including soft sales in both pharmacy and the front store, as well as reduced margins in pharmacy. As the new CEO, I am 100% focused on reversing the negative trends that the company has experienced. I have been working diligently with the new leadership team to develop a strategic roadmap that we previewed on the last earnings call, to optimize, focus, and grow with discipline.”

The first action Fred’s will take will be closing 40 underperforming stores in the first half of 2017. This provides an immediate benefit to earnings of more $4 million.

“We used a new, data-driven and sophisticated process to assess store performance, and more accurately forecast how this will change in the future,” said Bloom. “We have taken a similar approach to optimize our inventory. Based on a very deep and unprecedented view of what we need to grow, we will be eliminating and writing off inventory associated with both the store closings, and unproductive inventory throughout the enterprise.”

Moving forward, Bloom set forth a game plan for growth at Fred’s for the next three to five years. “The strategic plan that the leadership team developed includes four major levers, retail pharmacy expansion, specialty pharmacy, getting back to growth in front store, and acquisitions and partnerships,” Bloom stated during the company’s Q3 earnings call. “We see great growth potential for our retail pharmacy through a variety of initiatives: improvement in payer relationships, expansion of revenue-generating healthcare services offered through the pharmacy, a significant investment in pharmacy marketing focused on driving customer retention, and acquisition resulting in script growth, and an increase participation in 340B programs.”

On the specialty side, Fred’s plans to build on its momentum to diversify its specialty pharmacy portfolio, initially targeting oncology, rheumatoid arthritis and HIV.

“And as I have mentioned in the past, acquisition and partnership activity will play an integral role to accelerate our growth strategy, concluded Bloom. “We have already learned through our acquisition of Entrust and Reeves-Sain that expanding our reach and our portfolio of goods and services is a main driver of growth. We are actively focused on finding the right opportunities that will leverage the experience of this leadership team, and our core competencies in retail pharmacy and specialty pharmacy.”

Citing a “pending transaction,” Bloom did not take Wall Street analyst calls following his prepared remarks in the earnings call.

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Nielsen identifies the 3 core shopper groups utilizing retail clinics

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — Nielsen on Thursday identified three core consumer groups who are gravitating toward utilizing the kind of convenient and affordable health services available through retail clincs in a pharmacy setting including households with children, Hispanic shoppers and millennials.

In addition to identifying the ideal retail clinic consumer, Nielsen captured the type of health care services they're seeking as well as the products filling their shopping carts once they leave the clinic and step into the aisles.

Households with Children
As many as 29% of these shoppers have visited a retail clinic in the last year, primarily for treatments (56%), but also more likely than other shoppers to have visited for physicals and health counseling needs. While in store, 71% were influenced to make a purchase after their clinic visit, with 45% purchasing over-the-counter medication and 40% purchasing personal care items.

Hispanic Shoppers
In the last year, 35% of Hispanic consumers visited a retail clinic, seeking services such as flu shots, health assessments and physicals. As many as 86% made a purchase after their visit to the clinic, with 55% purchasing OTC medicine and 47% purchasing personal care items.

Millennial Shoppers
And one in four millennials (26%) visited a retail clinic in the last year, primarily for treatments (49%), but also more likely than other shoppers to have visited for health screens, assessments, physicals and health counseling. Millennials are almost twice as likely to purchase personal care, food and cleaning supplies during their visit.

By the end of 2017, Accenture projects there will be more than 2,800 retail clinics, noting that this represents a 47% increase from 2014, when there were more than 1,900 clinics in the U.S.

According to a recent Nielsen study, nearly 20% of consumers in the U.S. say they’ve visited a retail health clinic in the last 12 months.
 

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