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Walgreens awarded patent for oncology program

BY Michael Johnsen

Walgreens on Monday announced it has received a U.S. patent for new proprietary technology that facilitates communication with and counseling of patients prescribed oral oncology medicines.

“As more and more cancer patients are self-administering oral oncolytic medications without medical supervision, there is no way for providers to know if the patient is taking the medication as prescribed or what side effects they may be experiencing,” Rick Miller, senior director, specialty clinical services at AllianceRx Walgreens Prime, said. “This is where our interaction guiding system, coupled with pharmacy experts, becomes extremely valuable as it drives communication with our patients and allows our pharmacists to gather important information about their treatment.”

“As more and more cancer patients are self-administering oral oncolytic medications without medical supervision, there is no way for providers to know if the patient is taking the medication as prescribed or what side effects they may be experiencing.”

Through Walgreens Connected Care Oncology, an evidence-based, patient-centered process focused on driving medication adherence and improving patient outcomes, this newly patented technology helps guide interactions with patients, helping them stay on their treatment and manage any possible side effects.

The patented technology arms Walgreens and AllianceRx Walgreens Prime specialty pharmacy teams with a set of questions and informational scripts to guide conversations with Connected Care Oncology patients. Branching logic within the technology adapts the set of questions and informational scripts in real time. Each patient interaction is customized to focus on patient specific variables – including prescribed medication, adverse events and adherence – and provides the proper support to the patient based on their current situation. Walgreens and AllianceRx Walgreens Prime captures the data and provides it to the patient’s oncologist for informational purposes and continuity of care.

“Oral oncology is a growing area of cancer care, one that requires appropriate patient management and support to maximize the best potential outcomes and make our patients lives easier,” Matt Farber, senior director, patient care and advocacy at Walgreens, said. “The complexity of managing patients on oral oncolytics led us to develop this technology, that when coupled with pharmacists’ clinical expertise, helps us to deliver the best care to our patients as they go through their cancer treatment. We are honored to be awarded this patent as it demonstrates our continued commitment to patient care and innovation.”

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Walmart partnership boosts global presence

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart is teaming up with the largest e-commerce company in Japan in a deal that will strengthen its efforts to compete with Amazon both in Asia and the United States.

The nation’s largest retailer has entered into a strategic partnership with Tokyo-based Rakuten in a collaboration that includes the launch of an online grocery delivery service in Japan. The service, to be operated by Walmart’s Japanese unit, Seiyu GK, and Rakuten, will be called “Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper.” It will kick off in the latter half of 2018, and will replace Walmart’s existing online grocery delivery offering in Japan.

In addition, the partnership will enable Walmart to sell eBooks, audiobooks, and eReaders from Rakuten Kobo in its stores and online in the United States. Starting later this year, Walmart will sell digital book cards in stores, enabling more than 4,000 stores to carry a broader selection of books for customers. Owned by Rakuten, Toronto-based Kobo offers nearly 6 million eBooks and audiobooks to customers in 190 countries.

“Rakuten is a strong e-commerce business and we’re excited to collaborate with the top online shopping destination in Japan,” said Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon. “We look forward to expanding our grocery footprint in Japan and launching a new offering of eBooks and audiobooks for our customers in the U.S.”

The e-book alliance with Kobo will give Walmart entry into a category that is largely dominated in the United States by rival Amazon. Walmart and Kobo will also release a co-branded Walmart/Kobo e-reading app for iOS and Android as an alternative to Amazon’s Kindle app, as well as a desktop app.

“We are adding an entirely new category to our U.S. assortment—e-books and audiobooks. … ,” Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer, Walmart U.S. e-commerce business, said in a blog post. “We have long been a destination for entertainment including digital content – whether movies through VUDU or the digital game cards we sell in our stores. eBooks and audiobooks are a great addition to our assortment. Working with Rakuten Kobo enables us to quickly and efficiently launch a full eBook and audiobook catalog on Walmart.com to provide our customers with additional choices alongside our assortment of physical books.”

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Regional grocer looks to AI for pricing, promotions

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A new platform is helping Harps Food Stores create more relevant promotions.

The supermarket operator, which operates 87 stores across Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas, has described its print circular its largest advertising expense. In a move to make the circulars more relevant for shoppers, Harps Food Stores is using an artificial intelligence-based platform from Daisy Intelligence Corp.

The platform analyzes years of collected transactional information, and delivers insights into customer buying behavior. This analysis also uncovers specific, actionable product and marketing recommendations, and reveals which products should be featured in its weekly circulars, according to the company.

“We use Daisy Intelligence solution to analyze customer transactions and track the relationship between every item in every customer’s basket,” said David Ganoung, VP of marketing at Harps. “Daisy’s ability to provide us with the associated sales on every item within the individual transactions helps us to promote the items most pertinent to our customers.”

This data is also helping the chain to optimize its pricing and promotional efforts. “Daisy’s A.I. enables us to analyze Harp’s transactional data on a giant scale,” Ganoung added. “As a result, this significant improvement in promotional effectiveness supports our ability to meet the needs of our shoppers by keeping our prices competitive, and enhancing our profitability.”

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