Weis immunization, MTM efforts pay off
Pharmacy sales at Weis Markets increased 2.2% in 2010 vs. 2009 thanks in part to strong cough-cold sales over the year and the expansion of its pharmacy-based immunization program to most stores; Weis currently boasts 180 pharmacists who are certified by their respective boards of pharmacy to administer vaccines, the grocer reported.
“Our goal is by this fall to have every pharmacist certified to immunize,” Jeff Maltese, Weis VP pharmacy, told Drug Store News earlier this year. Medication therapy management is another focus Weis will be pursuing for this fall, Maltese added, where every Weis pharmacist will be trained to conduct an MTM consultation. The new Weis Market prototype, updated last year, features a redesigned pharmacy that includes a dedicated consultation room where Weis pharmacists can consult with patients around their drug regimens and administer vaccination shots.
To help capitalize on that pharmacy growth, as well as to help bring together pharmacy and food, Weis Markets streamlined its internal connection between wellness and pharmacy earlier this year with an organizational restructure that folds Weis Lifestyle Initiatives department, led by registered nutritionist Karen Buch, into the grocer’s pharmacy division. Buch now reports to Maltese. “There’s an opportunity for us to leverage both of those healthcare professionals, [the registered dietitian and pharmacist,] under one department,” Maltese said. There are plenty of opportunities to bridge nutrition and pharmacy, Maltese said, particularly for consumers with pre-existing chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart health issues. There’s also significant opportunity to develop prevention-minded programs for those health-savvy consumers, Maltese added.
The change could bring a more clinical vibe to Weis’ Healthy Bites publication, a free monthly magazine and social media directive that has historically featured health suggestions and better-for-you recipes published by Weis’ Lifestyle Initiatives team. “We’re also going to leverage [Buch’s] knowledge to educate pharmacists about how better to speak to their dietary considerations for their disease,” Maltese suggested.
K-VA-T’s holistic method fuses health, Rx
Offering a holistic approach to health is the goal of K-VA-T Food City stores, integrating pharmacy, food and good living.
To this end, last spring the chain launched NuVal, a nutritional scoring system that helps consumers make better food choices. The system was launched in all stores, and according to Don Clark, VP pharmacy services, it’s doing very well.
“We feel a responsibility to the people who shop in our stores and eat the products they buy from us,” Clark said. “We felt NuVal made it easy for the customers to understand the nutritional content of the foods they eat.”
The pharmacy also is a vital part of Food City’s health-and-wellness plans, Clark said.
“Our pharmacist is always in our stores ready to answer questions on healthy living plans and helping patients with information not only on their medications, but also on the way they live and eat,” Clark explained.
Food City also has a registered dietitian and a nurse whose title is director of healthy initiatives, both of whom were hired with the goal of helping customers live a healthy lifestyle. Both have worked very closely with the NuVal system, as well as with local doctors and health centers.
“We want our customers to be healthy because healthy people live longer, and they’ll shop our stores for more time. We recognize that as a [corporate] citizen, we want to be the destination that people seek out, understanding that when they go to Food City, we have alternatives that will help them live a healthy lifestyle,” Clark pointed out.
Every one of Food City’s pharmacies also has a pharmacist who is registered to provide immunizations — anything from shingles to tetanus and flu vaccines — throughout the year.
Customers of Food City’s pharmacies can join a prescription discount club that offers $4 generics and discounts on around 5,000 drugs. It also allows customers to earn discounts on over-the-counter medications on select diabetic products. “It’s a real saver for people that don’t have insurance or are underinsured,” Clark said.
Schnucks tackles chronic conditions
On top of its 101 in-store pharmacies, Schnucks last year opened four specialty pharmacies, offering specialized services to patients.
The pharmacies offer services for patients living with such chronic conditions as HIV, cancer, multiple sclerosis and autoimmune diseases, as well as for people recovering from organ transplants, said company spokesman Paul Simon. “It’s for patients who require special attention and hard-to-source medication,” he added.
Of the four specialty pharmacies, two are within Schnucks stores, beside the regular pharmacy, and two are stand-alone stores in medical offices. The stores have been introduced over the past two years, and more could be introduced going forward.
The specialty pharmacies run largely by appointment because these patients typically need a lot of counseling and one-on-one services. “The goal is to make life a little bit easier for the patient,” Simon explained, “with lots of counseling, advice [and] information on how to manage their condition, drugs, insurance, etc.”
Free home delivery and refill-reminder phone calls are two other services the specialty pharmacies provide. In Schnucks regular pharmacies, the chain continues its successful programs of $4 generic drugs and free antibiotics and prenatal vitamins. Immunizations also draw customers.
Within the regular pharmacies, Schnucks offers diabetes education through its certified diabetes educator pharmacists. As word spreads, more diabetes patients are taking advantage of this program, Simon pointed out.
Another service the pharmacies offer is a vision-screening test. “It’s no substitution for a trip to the eye doctor, but it’s a good indication if there should be a trip to the eye doctor — and it’s free,” Simon said. The stores also provide information on local eye doctors for patients who need it.
And finally, the Schnucks stores are a hub for a twice-weekly mammography van run by Barnes-Jewish Hospital.