PHARMACY

BioScrip unites community, specialty Rx

BY Alaric DeArment

As a specialty pharmacy provider, BioScrip probably isn’t the first name that comes to mind when one hears “retail pharmacy,” but its network of 31 community pharmacies around the country gives it a comfy spot at the table. The kinds of products and services it’s able to offer — ranging from home infusion and treatments for complex, chronic disease states to over-the-counter medications and sometimes even consumables — as a result of its combination of community pharmacy and specialty pharmacy make BioScrip stand out.


In July 2010, it spent $10.5 million to close the purchase of DS Pharmacy, the prescription drugs business of Drugstore.com, a deal that also included an agreement whereby customers could order prescription drugs from BioScrip through the Drugstore.com website. In March, Walgreens purchased the remaining portions of Drugstore.com for $429 million.


In February, BioScrip launched a Web-based service at MyBioScrip.com designed to connect healthcare professionals, patients and caregivers in order to help patients manage their medications and improve their overall care experience. The site uses HealthyCircles, an online platform that enables people to manage and share health information. “It’s time we created a patient-
centric model in the specialty space, and BioScrip is proud to be the first,” said Rick Smith, who replaced Richard Friedman as CEO in January.


Perhaps not surprisingly, the company’s strategy and approach to pharmacy has earned it a healthy amount of recognition. Last month, the Washington-based healthcare accrediting organization URAC awarded BioScrip its specialty pharmacy and mail-service pharmacy accreditation. Gaining the accreditation required it to participate in a complex application process that included comprehensive review of its customer service and clinical pharmacy processes against a combined 146 quality standards by expert analysts.


In addition to its community pharmacies, BioScrip operates 33 home nursing locations, 45 home infusion locations, three mail-service facilities and two contract-affiliated infusion pharmacies.


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Brookshire Rx offers competitive pricing

BY Amanda Baltazar

The brand-new Fresh Health Prescription Plan from Brookshire Grocery was rolled out on March 10. It’s a comprehensive prescription plan that shoppers in the chain’s new Fresh by Brookshire’s store, which opened in March 2010, can purchase for a $10 membership fee. 


“The program covers generic and brand prescriptions at very competitive pricing compared to what they’d pay with insurance and third-party plans,” said Jim Cousineau, Brookshire SVP pharmacy operations.


“It’s for shoppers who don’t have insurance or third-party plans. We thought the Fresh banner gave us the opportunity to market and test this with a little bit different clientele, and then determine whether or not this is something we could expand to our other banners,” Cousineau said.


Also at this 55,000-sq.-ft. store is an in-depth nutritional center. The goal, Cousineau explained, is to fuse the pharmacy, grocery and nutritional center as a combined health-and-wellness initiative.


In 2009, Brookshire started offering a wider selection of health-and-beauty products and established sections devoted to diabetes, sleep and therapeutic aids and supplies in a remodeled Super 1 Foods store in Lafayette, La. 


The program’s success has been average, Cousineau said. However, components of the program were expanded to another store, in Denton, Texas, where it seems to be doing better, “so we may be able to have a better barometer based on this store,” he explained. If it continues to go well, the program may be extended, though he added, “I don’t know that we ever see it as a real bastion of business for us.”


What has been a success from day one are diagnostic services in four of Brookshire’s stores. These include such screenings as blood glucose and body mass index. That program is being expanded, as is an immunization program that has recently grown to cover travel vaccines and other offerings, such as the pneumococcal vaccine.


Brookshire also has a free antibiotic program and discounted generics program.

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Hy-Vee finds niche in Rx, healthy eating

BY Alaric DeArment

The typical first-time customer walking into a Hy-Vee store will probably see it as a supermarket, but what makes Hy-Vee stick out is its strong emphasis on pharmacy programs and health and wellness.


In December 2010, the chain announced it would become one of a number of retailers to participate in Pharmacy Saver, a new program offered in collaboration with UnitedHealthcare, the country’s largest Medicare Part D insurer. The program offers 366 commonly prescribed generic drugs to select Medicare beneficiaries for as little as $2 and is offered on top of Hy-Vee’s generic discount program, which offers generic prescriptions for $4 for 30-day supplies and $10 for 90-day supplies.


Pharmacy Saver adds to Hy-Vee’s growing list of pharmacy offerings, including the chain’s partnership with Omaha, Neb.-based specialty pharmacy provider Amber Pharmacy to provide services that also would take advantage of Hy-Vee’s diet and nutrition programs. The partnership, officially a joint venture with Amber called Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions, also has its headquarters in Omaha and offers phone service, personal care coordinators and the option of having specialty medications made available for pickup at a Hy-Vee pharmacy or delivered to a patient’s home, office or other location.


Healthy eating is another area where Hy-Vee has staked out a niche for itself. It marked February as American Heart Month with a special advertising circular that contained nutrition information, shopping tips and heart-healthy recipes from Hy-Vee chefs, created in coordination with the chain’s 150 retail dietitians. The chain also began experimenting with a healthy checkstand assortment it calls “Blue Zone Lanes” (see page 86).


Hy-Vee’s efforts have won it recognition from the Food Marketing Institute, which awarded the chain one of its 2010 Maximizing People Potential awards at the FMI Human Resources/Training Development Conference in Baltimore in October in recognition for its healthy lifestyle program, which encourages employees to manage their health and rewards them for active participation.

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