Are you ready for ‘Health Mart 2.0?’
With some 3,000 stores now under its banner coast to coast and official designation by JD Power & Associates as the nation’s favorite pharmacy service provider, Health Mart has achieved a remarkable growth record in the eight years since McKesson launched a top-to-bottom overhaul of the Health Mart brand and marketing strategy. Now, the nation’s top name in independent franchised pharmacy is stepping up to a new level of customer care, operating performance, marketing sophistication and technological prowess.
That was the message from Brian Tyler, president of McKesson’s U.S. pharmaceutical division, to hundreds of franchisees at the 2012 Health Mart Annual Meeting Tuesday. After years of a dramatic buildup in numbers, market penetration and name recognition, Health Mart will undergo another major overhaul as company leaders work with individual franchise owners to improve sales, drawing power and profitability, and to compete more effectively with the national chains.
“We’re calling it Health Mart 2.0,” said Tyler. The goal, he said, is “to essentially refresh our strategic five-year plan.”
McKesson continues to search for a successor to former Health Mart president Tim Canning. In the interim, Tyler and other company officials have met with hundreds of Health Mart store owners around the U.S. to solicit their input and develop new strategies in clinical care, store support and effective marketing for the big franchise chain.
“We’ve hosted many meetings across the United States to shape the future of Health Mart,” Tyler told attendees. “We need to show the chains that we’re not going away: that we are the community pharmacy, and we will always be the community pharmacy.”
Even without a permanent replacement yet named for former Health Mart president Tim Canning, “We will not take our foot off the gas pedal,” said Tyler, in McKesson’s drive to grow Health Mart.
That means giving its members the tools to better provide clinical care to their patients through patient care and adherence programs like McKesson Sponsored Clinical Services and the Pharmacy Intervention Program (PIP), along with new technologies like ScriptAlert that enable community pharmacists to send refill reminders directly to patients’ mobile devices. It means boosting relationships with physicians through the Physician Outreach Program, enhancing operating efficiencies and business capabilities through learning tools like Health Mart University and RxOwnership, and winning clout and contracts with pharmacy benefit managers and health plans through programs like the AccessHealth network of McKesson-supported independent pharmacies.
“We’ve got to be able to take advantage of every revenue opportunity that exists,” urged Kevin Connor, VP and general manager of AccessHealth, in a panel discussion with other McKesson and Health Mart support leaders following Tyler’s speech.
Also underway: new efforts to build up demand among consumers for the non-pharmacy side of Health Mart stores via new front-end promotional efforts and a fast-growing Health Mart line of private-label products. Said Tyler, “We now have more than 330 private-label products,” and the list continues to grow.
Franchisees mull ideas to boost Health Mart
LAS VEGAS – What can McKesson do for me that will help drive my success and assure my continued viability in a fast-changing and competitive healthcare market?
That question was on the minds of many independent pharmacy owners attending Tuesday’s business and educational forums at ideaShare 2012.
Health Mart franchisees have had plenty to say about the future of the enterprise, what they want from McKesson in terms of support and how they want to go to market. Hundreds of franchisees participated in a well-organized set of breakout sessions after the general business session of the Health Mart Annual Meeting Tuesday, brainstorming on a slew of topics.
McKesson officials organized the discussions to solicit input from the owner-operators on the frontlines of U.S. community pharmacy about the future direction of Health Mart as it takes its place among the nation’s premier drug store organizations. With a little prompting from the moderators who moved the discussions along in each meeting room, those franchisees mulled each of six long-term goals set by Health Mart’s leaders for the franchise.
They proposed a wide-ranging list of ideas and potential solutions to address those long-term priorities, which include:
- Promoting the value of the Health Mart pharmacist;
- Gaining greater access to pharmacy provider contracts offering different payment methods;
- Building value for the Health Mart brand;
- Improving clinical care capabilities among Health Mart franchisees;
- Achieving operational excellence; and
- Building more effective teamwork among and between Health Mart operators and McKesson. Said Brian Tyler, president of McKesson’s U.S. pharmaceutical division, “We need to coalesce as 3,000 stores around this vision.”
The franchisees participating in the discussions agreed. But they’re looking to McKesson to help them compete versus the big chains by applying more of its marketing muscle in the form of advertising dollars and brand-building tools.
One participant reminded his peers of the enormous power and name recognition of drug store brands like Walgreens and CVS, and said that for Americans who move to a new community and are unfamiliar with local independent pharmacy offerings, “it’s an easy default” for those consumers to simply move their business immediately to one of the big chains with the universally recognized logos. “We need something to compete with that,” he implored McKesson.
Added another franchisee, “we need to drive the Health Mart logo deep into America’s consciousness.”
Nevertheless, several Health Mart members expressed appreciation for the chance to interact that the conference provides, and for the strengths that McKesson and its store-support prowess have brought to their businesses. Said one attendee at the Health Mart opening session, “there are probably some people in this room who wouldn’t still be in business if it wasn’t for Health Mart."
Q&A: Resources for overcoming the adherence challenge
Winning the patient adherence battle is about aligning all stakeholders, from the patient to the pharmacist, to payers, employers, physicians and pharma, in a collaborative, patient-centered model that not only educates patients, but also actively engages them in managing their health and treatment regimens. To find out more about how McKesson is helping community pharmacists deliver better patient care through one-on-one interventions and coaching — and get paid for it — DSN spoke Tuesday to Peggy Yelinek, VP and general manager of McKesson Patient Relationship Solutions.
DSN: What is the biggest challenge when it comes to getting patients to adhere to their medications?
Yelinek: The biggest challenge is identifying the unique adherence barriers each patient will face. Barriers may be anything from drug costs, to thinking it’s not important, to a lack of visible clues that reinforce the drug is working. What’s more, these barriers can change over time. For example, a patient with diabetes who is newly prescribed insulin may face denial, feel overwhelmed and feel like a failure because he or she didn’t succeed on oral medications — all of which can lead to nonadherence. An experienced insulin user may have other barriers, such as not testing blood-glucose levels or challenges with lifestyle management. This is a great example of why messaging for each patient needs to be tailored to their distinct needs in order to develop a comprehensive solution to help them overcome the barriers to taking their medications as prescribed.
DSN: Why is it so important that people take their medications as instructed?
Yelinek: While there are significant financial implications to medication nonadherence, perhaps the greatest concern is the impact on a patient’s quality of life. Medications simply do not work as effectively if not taken regularly, and skipping doses can have serious health consequences. With chronic conditions like diabetes, COPD or hypertension, taking your medications as prescribed could mean the difference between having a good versus a poor overall quality of life.
DSN: What is the role of the pharmacist in addressing nonadherence?
Yelinek: We strongly feel that community pharmacists and their relationship with their patients are an integral part of the solution. Since pharmacists are knowledgeable, accessible and trusted by their patients, they are in a unique position to play a significant role in helping to control healthcare costs by offering patients convenient, cost-effective healthcare.
McKesson’s Pharmacy Intervention Program, which expands patient access to one-on-one behavioral coaching from their retail pharmacists, is helping to achieve better patient care, enhance the role of the pharmacists and transition the pharmacy to a service-based business model. The Pharmacy Intervention Program found patients who received face-to-face behavioral coaching from their pharmacists showed significant adherence benefits. For example, COPD patients who received coaching showed an average of 1.6 incremental fills over 12 months, and patients coached in multiple diabetes programs showed an average of four incremental refills over 12 months when compared to patients who did not receive behavioral coaching.
DSN: How does McKesson facilitate delivering adherence programs to patients?
Yelinek: Supporting patients and driving their loyalty to their community pharmacy is the cornerstone of McKesson’s Sponsored Clinical Services Network. We are committed to providing our pharmacy customers with new forms of clinical services and technologies that not only result in healthier and more connected patients, but also provide compensation to pharmacists for their clinical expertise.
McKesson’s Sponsored Clinical Services Network is the industry’s largest active patient support network with significant experience implementing adherence support programs. Building on our partnerships with many of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturers in the industry, pharmacies active in our network have implemented innovative clinical services programs, such as delivering unique face-to-face adherence coaching, refill reminder letters and text messages, as well as opportunities to support patients in finding and participating in valuable clinical research. In 2011, participating pharmacies earned $1 million in service fees for providing patient support services and supported an estimated one-quarter million patients.
DSN: What else is McKesson doing to address this national issue?
Yelinek: McKesson recognizes that effective support of medication adherence requires an integrated effort from all healthcare stakeholders: physicians, pharmacists, employers, payers and pharmaceutical manufacturers. We believe we can help facilitate this collaboration through a patient-centered approach designed to educate patients and motivate them to actively manage their health and stay on therapy.