PHARMACY

Walgreens adds Pill Reminder, Transfer by Scan features to mobile app

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens is bringing its pharmacy to the palms of customers’ hands by introducing new mobile features that aim to improve the management of prescription needs and medication adherence.

The latest mobile features include:

  • Pill Reminder, which allows iPhone mobile app users to track medication schedules and receive alerts through nine different reminder options, which can be set up by scanning a prescription barcode and selecting alert preferences. Users also can add multiple prescriptions, vitamins and other supplements to a single reminder notification; and

  • Transfer by Scan, which enables Walgreens mobile app users on iPhone and Android devices to transfer a prescription from another pharmacy to Walgreens by taking a picture of their prescription bottle and providing their name, date of birth and phone number, then sending to Walgreens with one click.

The new features build on Walgreens’ already-robust mobile app. In October 2011, the drug store chain launched a text messaging refill reminder functionality that allows patients to complete prescription orders. The company also launched Refill by Scan, which enables mobile users to order refills simply by scanning the barcode on a prescription bottle.

“Mobile is an important channel for us and brings great opportunities for technology innovation and providing pharmacy features to millions of our mobile customers,” Walgreens president of e-commerce Sona Chawla said. “We’ve extended the convenience of Walgreens pharmacy through a number of intuitive, easy-to-use tools that can be very effective in helping patients better manage and improve their overall health.”

In related news, Walgreens also said it has added a new and enhanced feature to its app for shutterbugs called QuickPrints, which allows mobile customers to order prints directly from an iPhone or Android device without logging in. Photo pickup is available in as little as an hour at any Walgreens, the company said.

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PHARMACY

FDA mulls over making some prescription drugs available over the counter

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration is looking at the possibility of selling certain prescription drugs over the counter under specific circumstances, the agency said.

The FDA will have a meeting on March 22 to collect public opinion regarding what it called a "new paradigm" under which drugs for such conditions as cholesterol and diabetes that normally require prescriptions would be available without them under "conditions of safe use" that would be specific to each drug, such as assisting patients in drug selection, providing followup monitoring or requiring pharmacist intervention to ensure appropriate use.

Another possibility suggested was the use of technologies such as diagnostics used in the pharmacy or other settings. In the meeting notice, published in the Federal Register, the FDA said it was aware of new technologies that allow patients to self-screen for certain diseases. "For example, kiosks or other technological aids in pharmacies or on the Internet could lead consumers through an algorithm for a particular drug product," the notice read. "Such an algorithm could consist of a series of questions that help consumers properly self-diagnose certain medical conditions, or determine whether specific medication warnings contraindicate their use of a drug product."

Pharmacist intervention could include requiring confirmation of a diagnosis or routine monitoring using a diagnostic test such as a blood test for cholesterol levels or liver function that could be available in a pharmacy.

The announcement noted that "eliminating or reducing" the number of routine visits that patients must often make to their physicians, such as checkups for certain drug therapies, would allow those physicians to spend more time with more seriously ill patients, thereby reducing the burden on the healthcare system and reducing healthcare costs.

"In some cases, a visit to a practitioner would be required for the initial prescription, but a certain number of refills could be authorized beyond those that would normally be authorized without a return visit under specialized conditions of safe use," the notice read, mentioning rescue medications such as asthma inhalers or epinephrine for allergic reactions.


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Q&A: Streamlining specialty

BY DSN STAFF

In January, specialty pharmacy group contracting organization Armada Health Care introduced ApproveRx, a Web-based system that it says will greatly streamline the prior authorization process and already has been adopted by Amber Pharmacy. Meanwhile, the company also is gearing up for the Armada Summit at the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel in May. Recently, Drug Store News spoke with Armada CEO Larry Irene about these recent developments.


DSN: How did Armada develop the ApproveRx 
system?

Larry Irene: ApproveRx was developed as an extension of Armada’s ReachRx Prior Authorization Service, which utilizes our expert staff to manage the prior authorization process and obtain approvals. ApproveRx meets the needs of healthcare professionals requiring a “do-it-yourself” solution to streamline and expedite prior authorizations. The free, Web-based tool can be accessed via a standard browser and used for all drugs, including specialty medications.

DSN: How will ApproveRx make a difference in how specialty pharmacies handle prior authorizations?

Irene: ApproveRx has a library of more than 6,000 prior authorization forms for virtually all drugs and insurance plans. With ApproveRx, healthcare professionals can quickly find prior authorization forms and submit them to prescribers or insurance plans in minutes. ApproveRx’s at-a-glance dashboard allows pharmacies and prescribers to efficiently track open and submitted prior authorizations so they can focus on caring for patients.

DSN: What issues do you foresee as the main focus at the Armada Summit in May?

Irene: The Armada Summit continues to deliver our attendees in-depth discussions and presentations that impact their daily business. Key areas of focus for the event in May will include technology’s evolving role in specialty, [risk evaluation mitigation strategies], the potential impact of potential managed care contracting strategies and the specialty pipeline.

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