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US Nutrition vet assumes lead sales role at UrgentRx

BY Michael Johnsen

DENVER — UrgentRx on Monday announced that Tony West has joined its team as VP sales. 

“We’re thrilled to have a sales professional of Tony’s caliber join UrgentRx,” stated Jordan Eisenberg, president of UrgentRx. “As we expand our product line and launch into new markets, Tony’s experience and relationships will be instrumental in spurring UrgentRx’s growth. With Tony as our VP of sales, we’re looking forward to an exciting new era for the company.”

West will focus on expanding UrgentRx’s presence in retailers throughout the United States, as well as nurturing existing and establishing new relationships with retailers. He started with UrgentRx on Oct. 4.

West brings to UrgentRx more than 20 years experience in consumer package goods sales leadership positions. Most recently, West served as a senior sales executive at US Nutrition — marketer and distributor of Nature’s Bounty and Osteo-BiFlex. 

Prior to US Nutrition, West served as VP sales at Schiff Nutrition, where he was responsible for executing the launch of Schiff Mega Red Omega-3 Krill. He began his career with The Gillette Company, where he spent 10 years in sales roles of increasing responsibility.

 

 

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Crossing the ‘retailization’ threshold

BY Jim Frederick

The U.S. healthcare system’s steady migration beyond the exclusive terrain of the physician practices, professional clinics and hospitals — and into the far more accessible and more cost-conscious world of retail pharmacy and health — continues to accelerate. The shift is dramatically expanding access to health services for millions of patients — many of them uninsured or underinsured — and elevating the status of retail clinicians and community pharmacists.

Insurers and health-plan payers, desperate to scrounge up new ways to cut skyrocketing health costs for their members, are eagerly encouraging the healthcare "retailization" trend. Patients are, too. Tens of millions of Americans now embrace the convenience of walking into an in-store clinic or pharmacy, sans appointment, for treatment of their minor emergencies or ailments by a nurse practitioner or the advice and preventive care of a pharmacist.

Among the big insurers now driving the trend: Independence Blue Cross of Pennsylvania, which last week announced that it has expanded its members’ access to care by adding coverage for treatment at urgent care centers and retail clinics. The plan even rolled out a new online tool to help its members locate the nearest retail clinic.

IBC CEO and president Daniel Hilferty is fully cognizant of the benefits that come with the expanded treatment option, both for patients and for Blue Cross. For members, coverage of visits to retail clinics and urgent care centers expands access to care "so members can get care when they need it the most, along with the tools and information to make wise healthcare decisions.” It also helps keep those members out of “busy, more costly emergency rooms," he said, saving the insurer big bucks.

It’s a tangible benefit. As Drug Store News senior editor Antoinette Alexander points out, nearly 1-in-5 visits to hospital emergency departments in this country "could potentially be treated at retail based health clinics or urgent care centers for an estimated savings to consumers of $4.4 billion," according to a 2010 study from the RAND Corp.

I think those estimates are conservative. Why? Because, like pharmacists, the nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants who staff those retail clinics have heretofore been constrained in the scope of services they can offer in most states. That’s changing as more and more states, such as Massachusetts — and more and more payers and other healthcare stakeholders — recognize the need for cost-saving alternatives to ERs and doctor’s offices for routine care, and as both pharmacists and retail clinicians are given the tools and regulatory clearance to begin practicing "at the top of their profession," to quote one pharmacy leader at Walgreens.

How far pharmacy and the retail clinic industry can evolve and gain stature among the professional care pantheon is anybody’s guess, but a lot will depend on pharmacy benefit managers, payers and insurers, such as Blue Cross. What’s your take on it? Click on the link below to share your thoughts.

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Samford University pharmacy school gets CMS nursing home grant

BY Alaric DeArment

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A pharmacy school in Alabama is getting a grant for a program designed to reduce hospitalizations among nursing home residents.

Samford University announced that its McWhorter School of Pharmacy would receive $865,568 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to improve quality of care among Medicare-Medicaid dual enrollees in the state’s 23 nursing homes, part of a program led by the Alabama Quality Assurance Foundation. The AQAF is one of seven organizations around the country working with the CMS to improve care quality at 145 nursing homes around the country.

In Alabama, the Samford University pharmacy school and nine other health care-related partners will provide enhanced, on-site services and support for nursing home residents, which are in 14 counties in the central and north-central regions of the state. The services include evidence-based decision support and education for healthcare providers on rational use of medications from pharmacists at the university’s Global Drug Information Service.

"The pharmacists will implement quality improvement projects to reduce the risk of adverse events and avoidable hospitalizations related to use of high-risk medications," GDIS director Maisha Kelly Freeman said. "They will also provide continuing education seminars on the appropriate use of medications, facilitate training sessions with nursing personnel and evaluate the success of the education initiative."

Most nursing home residents are enrolled in Medicare, and nearly two-thirds are enrolled in Medicaid. According to research, about 45% of hospitalizations among dual enrollees, costing about $7-8 billion in 2011, could be avoided.


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