Adding vaccines to services
From the beginning, Pharmaca’s format has included expert health advocates — professionals licensed in such fields as nutrition, skin care, homeopathy, naturopathy and herbal studies — who work in conjunction with pharmacists to develop health treatments and regimens unique to each customer and patient. And that personal level of care and expertise extends to the chain’s expanding beauty selection, as well.
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“With our staff of estheticians and expanding number of Natural Beauty Bars, customers can shop for spa-quality beauty brands and enjoy the convenience of in-store beauty services like brow waxing, makeup application [and] makeovers,” Mark Panzer, Pharmaca president and CEO, told Drug Store News.
In the past year, Pharmaca has expanded its portfolio of health-and-beauty services to include immunizations for influenza, pneumonia, shingles and whooping cough on a walk-in basis. To help promote that new offering, members of Pharmaca’s Feel Better Rewards loyalty program this fall received a gift coupon for $5 worth of retail shopping when they get their flu shot at Pharmaca.
That loyalty program is another differentiator that helps distinguish the Pacific Northwest pharmacy chain. “We use our Feel Better Rewards loyalty program to maintain direct contact with our customers, which helps us grow both in brick-and-mortar business and e-commerce,” Panzer said. “Our loyalty program has been growing rapidly over the past two years and continues to be a great benefit in driving loyalty, but most importantly, driving basket-size and customer transactions.”
Pharmaca currently operates 29 stores (two were opened recently) and expects to open two additional new stores this year. “Our newest northern California (Los Altos) location will open in April 2015 and will also follow the non-pharmacy format,” Panzer said. “We’re planning additional fill-ins to existing markets, which includes the Pacific Northwest market, the Bay Area and also the San Diego-Los Angeles market.”
Special services set chain apart
Fruth Pharmacy focused on improvements to its core pharmacy business in 2014.
While the company focuses on “good, old-fashioned service,” its pharmacy services are state-of-the-art.
“We’ve also been focusing on clinical aspects of the pharmacy and driving completion of MTMs and TIPS (Targeted Intervention Programs),” said Fruth president and chairman Lynne Fruth. “Our pharmacy system, PDX-EPS, has allowed us to integrate clinical and adherence programs, as well as CoverMyMeds to help with prior authorizations.”
The chain has achieved incremental prescription growth as a result of a major promotional push to enroll patients in its mobile app refill and pick-up reminders. More than 9,000 patients have enrolled in Fruth’s text-reminder service.
The company also has increased its television, radio and print advertising in 2014 and continues to expand its presence on social media with special offers, contests and human interest stories.
Last year, to help its home state fight the growing incidence of meth labs, the chain was the first in West Virginia to stop selling non-tamper resistant OTC pseudoephedrine products.
Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS soon followed Fruth’s lead to great success. “Today, 62% of the single ingredient PSE sold in West Virginia is tamper resistant, and West Virginia meth labs were down by 40%,” Fruth said. “Fruth Pharmacy, a small regional chain, led the way.”
The chain continues its efforts to reach its community through public health programs and immunizations. Last year, the company doubled its flu immunizations over 2013.
The company relocated and completely redesigned two stores last year and added diabetic sections to all stores to better merchandise a full array of offerings for patients with diabetes.
Several locations also were redesigned to better accommodate onsite clinic and Express Care programs the chain offers in partnership with local hospitals and mid-level providers.
Enhancing medication adherence
Established in 1942, Lewis Drug made its mark as the first self-service drug store in South Dakota. Today, Lewis continues to go strong with an even greater emphasis on improving patient health outcomes.
“Our focus is really going to be on the patient and the customer, and their healthcare needs,” said Scott Cross, EVP at Lewis Drug.
In pharmacy, Lewis Drug has several initiatives in place aimed at improving medication adherence, including its Smart Sync program, which enables enrolled patients to have their prescriptions filled on the same day each month.
Each month, a Lewis pharmacist reviews patients’ prescriptions, monitors changes after any doctor or hospital visits, and checks for possible drug interactions.
The program is now in its third year but, according to Cross, the company is now actively marketing it through television spots and pharmacy brochures. In addition, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are calling their patients to inform them of the program and encouraging them to enroll.
Cross said the company also is exploring unit-dose packaging for its retail prescriptions as a way to help improve adherence. “We are testing several different types to find out which one works the best,” Cross said.
Lewis Drug has offered unit-dosing for its mental health and long-term care patients for several years.
Meanwhile, the company is working to become even more of a wellness destination at the front end by providing customers with greater healthy alternatives in its food and beverage departments, including gluten-free and organic products and nutritional supplements.
Cross said Lewis is exploring different merchandising display options and may even create an entire wellness department within the store with hopes to implement by the third quarter.