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Kroger commits to phasing out neonicotinoid-treated plants

BY Antoinette Alexander

Kroger has announced a new policy to protect pollinators that includes a commitment to phase out by 2020 sourcing of live garden plants in stores and garden centers that have been treated with neonicotinoids, a group of insecticides that are harmful to honey bees.

The policy is inclusive of outdoor plants known to be pollinated by honey bees or known to attract honey bees.

Today, the majority of live plant sales in Kroger’s garden center and outdoor floral selection are not treated with neonicotinoids during the growing process. Its suppliers are actively seeking alternative options for the remaining products, and remains committed to working with them to ensure proper alternatives have been identified by 2020, the grocer stated. Kroger will also track, measure and report on the progress against this commitment.

Kroger stated that it will rely on the expertise of the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and other scientific experts to evaluate any possible updates to the policy.

Additionally, Kroger offers a large selection of organic produce, which is desirable for customers looking to minimize potential exposure to synthetic pesticides. Representing nearly 20 percent of America’s annual organic produce business, Kroger sales reached $1 billion in 2017. A dedicated procurement team partners with more than 300 organic produce growers and suppliers every year to bring customers a selection of organic fruits and vegetables, the grocer stated.

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AllianceRx Walgreens Prime taps Inovalon for cloud-based specialty Rx capabilities

BY Antoinette Alexander

AllianceRx Walgreens Prime, which was formed in 2017 through a collaboration between Walgreens and PBM Prime Therapeutics, has inked a five-year engagement with tech company Inovalon.

Under the agreement, announced on Tuesday, Inovalon will provide cloud-based specialty pharmacy capabilities though its ONE Platform. According to Inovalon, the platform’s capabilities allow for AllianceRx Walgreens Prime to be significantly differentiated in the marketplace, reducing time-to-fill and costs and improving quality assurance, while empowering advanced functionality, greater flexibility, operational efficiency, and a focus on clinical and quality outcomes.

Referred to as ScriptMed Cloud, the specialty pharmacy configuration of the Inovalon ONE Platform leverages a wide array of existing proprietary technology toolsets within the platform (known as components) as well as a module of eight newly developed components that leverage Creehan specialty pharmacy expertise engineered in cloud native-microservice architecture.

Examples of features enabled through the platform include:

  • Sophisticated clinical protocols powered by patient-specific data and advanced analytics;
  • Extensive connectivity with EHRs, HIEs, payer systems, and provider sites to speed necessary data capture and authorization processes;
  • Modular design allowing health plans and provider systems to integrate more easily with in-house capabilities and other third-party pharmacy solutions;
  • Real-time analytics and data accessibility to timely inform clinical interactions and improve patient experience;
  • Simultaneous multi-stakeholder coordination enabling parallel processes related to each unique patient’s needs, materially accelerating time-to-fill improvements;
  • Real-time process coordination of patient-level and provider-level data with elements of care management, referral management, order fulfillment, order management, inventory management, revenue cycle management, and relevant contract management supporting payer and pharmaceutical manufacturer requirements; and
  • Highly granular business intelligence tracking and reporting to deliver insights on system, financial, clinical, and operational status and performance in real time.

Preparation for ScriptMed Cloud began during the summer of 2017, with subsequent expansions of Inovalon’s cloud data centers and cloud-based software design and development. Unique to the project launch is the simultaneous support of enterprise software during the phased delivery of cloud-based functionality. When completed, all of the AllianceRx Walgreens Prime’s operations will be run from the Inovalon cloud-based platform.

“We are committed to bringing the industry’s most advanced capabilities to the marketplace for our clients and their patients,” said Joel Wright, chief executive officer of AllianceRx Walgreens Prime. “With the rising focus on quality, costs, and patient experience, we are excited about our relationship with Inovalon and the differentiation we will bring to the market together.”

“The application of sophisticated data-driven capabilities in specialty pharmacy is critical not only to operating efficiently, but also to delivering the best possible experience and outcome for patients,” added Jim Adams, chief information officer of AllianceRx Walgreens Prime. “Inovalon stands out not only in their achievement of truly industry-leading cloud-based capabilities, but also in their appreciation of the patient and the impact that we can achieve together.”

In addition to supporting AllianceRx Walgreens Prime’s existing portfolio of business, the engagement is also designed as a collaboration to facilitate the identification and joint delivery of specialty pharmacy platform services across the marketplace. As many health plans and provider systems are exploring ways to decrease costs, increase market differentiation, and service their respective patients and members, AllianceRx Walgreens Prime and Inovalon will collaborate to support these potential clients’ needs together.

“For years we have worked together with the specialty pharmacy marketplace to deliver solutions that achieve both industry-leading capabilities and patient-focused care,” said Sean Creehan, president and general manager of Inovalon’s specialty pharmacy software business. “The introduction of ScriptMed Cloud elevates this focus to a whole new level, adding tremendous advancements in functionality and performance that accelerate speed-to-value and enables the improvement of patient care, which is at the core of our mission and why we come to work each day.”

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Giant Food Stores to open e-commerce hub in Lancaster County

E-commerce hub is part of $22 million investment

BY Antoinette Alexander

Ahold Delhaize’s Giant Food Stores announced on Monday a $22 million investment in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County, which includes launching a new e-commerce hub at its former North Reservoir St. location, remodel completions at four stores, lower prices across its stores, and the opening of a new Lititz fuel station.

“We look at this e-commerce hub as an investment not just in property, but in the people of Lancaster who have waited too long to hear news from us about our future plans,” said Nicholas Bertram, Giant president. “We have been listening closely to the community, and we would like to sincerely thank Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace for her counsel during the past several months as we developed these plans for more economic opportunity and growth within the city.”

The new e-commerce hub will serve as a grocery delivery center and will be designed with a unique format that offers curbside pickup orders, where online orders are delivered right to customers’ cars parked outside of the hub. The format will also feature a walkable pickup point to meet the growing local demand for online grocery. The hub will encompass 38,000 square feet, enabling Giant and its online grocery partner Peapod to serve up to 40 percent more shoppers. The grocer’s new e-commerce hub concept will bring approximately 150 new jobs to the community.

“We’re seeing double digit growth in online ordering and grocery delivery,” continued Bertram. “We are rededicating ourselves to the Lancaster market, and we want this cutting-edge facility to be unique – something the Northeast neighborhood will be proud of while we meet this demand. We’re excited because the e-commerce hub will allow us to increase capacity quickly.” This will be the fifth such facility GIANT has opened in Pennsylvania with Peapod.

New store features

The first phase of Giant’s investment is now complete and included extensive remodels at four locations. In addition to expanded product selections, the remodeled stores also feature a new look in the health and beauty care departments. The departments have an expanded variety of items and newly installed LED lighting.

In addition, Giant has reduced prices on thousands of products in produce, meat, deli, grocery, dairy, frozen food, and health and beauty care that customers routinely purchase. Customers will find savings up to 35 percent on staple items such as Giant brand pasta, ground beef, shredded cheese, waffles, canned beans, family cereals, aluminum foil, sandwich bags, organic yogurt and more, in addition to select national brand products.

Giant operates eight stores in Lancaster County, employing approximately 1,300 associates.

This latest investment in Lancaster is in addition to a $70 million investment the grocer announced earlier this year to grow its store network across Pennsylvania by constructing six new stores, remodeling two locations and opening four new fuel stations over the next two years. As part of this growth strategy, Giant plans to enter the East Stroudsburg and Walnutport communities for the first time.

 

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