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Walgreens Worksite Health Centers receive accreditation as medical homes

BY Antoinette Alexander

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens and the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care announced on Thursday that half of the primary care worksite health centers managed by Walgreens Employer Solutions Group have received Medical Home accreditation, with plans to have all of the company’s employer-based primary care centers accredited in the first half of 2013.

The accreditation recognizes that each worksite health center meets AAAHC requirements to be considered a patient-centered medical home, embodying best practices and operating in compliance with nationally recognized standards of care.

“We’re proud to have received accreditation from AAAHC, an organization that shares our commitment to ensuring healthcare delivery meets the highest-quality standards and is coordinated across the healthcare spectrum, benefitting both employers and employees,” stated Trent Riley, divisional VP for Walgreens Health and Wellness division. “Walgreens has demonstrated how investing in worksite health programs can reduce costs and improve health outcomes for our clients, and this recognition underscores the broad capabilities and quality of care delivered by the dedicated healthcare providers at our centers.”

As part of the approximately year-long accreditation process, AAAHC representatives visited worksite health centers at a number of Walgreens client sites, including Toyota, Southwire and Fieldale Farms. At each of these locations, on-site surveys were conducted in order to evaluate whether the Walgreens facilities successfully meet AAAHC criteria as a Medical Home.

The AAAHC accreditation brings further recognition to Walgreens core structure for demonstrated compliance with AAAHC established clinical, quality and organizational standards related to the management and operation of its worksite health centers.

AAAHC has established specific standards for the Medical Home that require them to be patient-centered, physician-directed, comprehensive, accessible and to coordinate care with all of the patient’s primary care and specialty care provider teams.

AAAHC, which in 2009 launched the nation’s first medical home accreditation, was also the first organization to offer an on-site survey for the Medical Home. The peer-based surveys are designed to allow for a more rigorous process examining the quality of provided, and are conducted by physicians, nurses and clinical administrators who work in ambulatory healthcare delivery.

Employers are increasingly looking to offer on-site health-and-wellness services, according to a 2011 report from Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health. The report showed 23% of companies currently offer on-site health services and that an additional 12% of companies plan to begin to offer services this year

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Rite Aid reports nearly $62 million profit

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid beat analyst expectations in third quarter 2013 as the generic wave and retention of Express Scripts customers helped drive better-than-expected adjusted EBITDA and produced the company’s first profitable quarter in five years.

"I am proud that we have achieved this significant milestone by putting our customers first and challenging ourselves to better serve them," Rite Aid president, chairman and CEO John Standley said in a conference call with Wall Street analysts Thursday morning.

The company reported sales of $6.2 billion, a 1.2% decrease compared with third quarter 2012’s $6.3 billion due to the introduction of new generics and store closings. Same-store sales decreased by 1.5%, as a 2.7% decrease in pharmacy comps due to new generic introductions offset a 1.1% increase in front-end comps, though same-store prescriptions filled increased by 3.6%, including the addition of new prescriptions from the dispute between Walgreens and Express Scripts. At the same time, the company posted a profit of $61.9 million compared with third quarter 2012’s loss of $52 million. The chain’s last profitable quarter was first quarter 2008, reported in June 2007.

Even though the Walgreens-ESI dispute has been resolved, Rite Aid has managed to retain the "vast majority" of those who moved over, CFO and chief administrative officer Frank Vitrano said during the call.

One reason is that the company has aggressively sought to enroll those customers in the Wellness+ loyalty card program, which had approximately 25 million active members during the quarter, a 5% increase over the same period last year, of whom gold and silver members are the most active. Members accounted for 76% of front-end sales, compared with 72% in third quarter 2012, as well as 67% of prescriptions filled, compared with 66% during the same period last year, leading COO Ken Martindale to call it the "richest and most rewarding program" in the industry. "I think there’s still an opportunity out there to continue to educate people who don’t understand the program," Martindale said, adding that research the company has done suggests that when customers do understand it, it changes their front-end shopping habits for the better and helps retain them.

Another contributor to front-end sales has been the Wellness store format. The chain currently has 687 stores converted to the format and expects to have 780 converted by the end of fiscal year 2013; it also has trained nearly 1,100 Wellness Ambassadors. This has helped contribute to the 300 basis points lift in front-end sales at the Wellness stores compared with non-Wellness stores. In addition, the company plans to expand the updated Wellness store format, currently showcased in the Lemoyne, Pa., store featured in a recent Drug Store News video.

Immunizations have seen a strong boost as well, with 1.8 million immunizations delivered to date and plans to administer 2 million this year, thanks to a stronger flu season. "We’re using this opportunity to educate patients about immunizations and other clinical services," Standley said.

The company’s adjusted EBITDA beat analyst projections, coming in at $277.2 million. Guggenheim Securities had projected adjusted EBITDA of $247.3 million. "We believe the generic wave will power above-trend near-term operating momentum and we would remain buyers of the stock," Guggenheim analyst John Heinbockel wrote in a report to investors.

Wall Street reacted positively as well, as Rite Aid’s stock opened at $1.17 per share and jumped to $1.21 before settling at $1.17 around 10 a.m. EST, having closed at $1.04 per share on Wednesday.

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NACDS’ Jim Huber to retire; David Fitzsimmons named SVP, finance and administration

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores announced on Wednesday that Jim Huber, EVP and CFO of NACDS, is retiring after 25 years of service. He will be succeed by David Fitzsimmons has been promoted to SVP of finance and administration.  

Fitzsimmons currently serves as VP finance and accounting. He will succeed Huber effective Dec. 21, 2012.

“As he embarks on his retirement, I thank Jim Huber for his unwavering dedication to NACDS for more than two decades. In planning for a seamless transition and in ensuring successful completion of a host of projects, Jim has provided an excellent example of what it means to finish strong, and now we wish him all the best — we are quite sure he will remain active in many ways,” stated NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson.

In his new role, Fitzsimmons will report to Anderson and is responsible for all financial and fiduciary operations and policies of the association, including affiliated entities, trusts and investments. He also will be responsible for the preparation of the annual operating budget in concert with the NACDS president, NACDS finance committee and NACDS board of directors.
 
In addition, Fitzsimmons will manage oversight of the association’s technology-related activities, and will work closely with the member programs and services department to meet financial and strategic objectives.  
 
“With Dave at the helm, I am confident that NACDS’ financial position remains in good hands. His expertise and 29-year career in finance make him an excellent choice to lead the association’s financial activities,” Anderson said. “I am pleased to welcome him into his new role and look forward to working with him to maintain NACDS’ position of strength to meet the association’s objectives in the areas of advocacy, communications and member services for the ultimate good of pharmacy patient care.”

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