PHARMACY

Blue Cross Blue Shield launches online tool to provide consumers with healthcare info.

BY Alaric DeArment

EAGAN, Minn. A health insurer has introduced an online tool to help consumers in Minnesota find information about healthcare costs and quality.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota announced Monday that it had introduced Care Comparison, which will allow its 2 million members in the state to evaluate treatment costs as well as quality, safety and accessibility information for many common elective procedures.

“Care Comparison addresses a consumer need to make healthcare spending decisions based not on cost alone, but on overall value – cost, quality, safety, convenience and the entire experience,” said Richard Neuner, chief marketing officer, BC/BS. “Because the information will be so broadly available, we think providers will ultimately be encouraged to strive for the best-quality outcomes.”

Members can use the tool at http://members.bluecrossmn.com.

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Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis seeks to find a cure

BY Alaric DeArment

WALTHAM, Mass. A non-profit organization has added a collection site to its national network of sites gathering samples of data and blood for use in multiple sclerosis research.

The Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis announced Monday it finalized plans with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and one of its doctors, R. Philip Kinkel, to begin the collection.

“This is something that Accelerated Cure Project has been working on since we started the repository in 2006,” Accelerated Cure Project CEO Carolyn Cronin said in a statement. “Having the ability to collect samples from a larger population through accessibility to our sites results in faster and more conclusive MS research.”

The repository contains samples and data for scientists working in multiple fields, such as genetics, virology and nutrition. Other collection sites include Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, the Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio, the Shepherd Center in Atlanta and others.

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PHARMACY

Walgreens’ Riedl shifts to pharmacy

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. —In a major shift of responsibilities, Walgreens has named its top merchant, George Riedl, to the new post of SVP pharmacy innovation and purchasing in the pharmacy services department. The change was effective March 1.

Riedl has led the company’s purchasing and merchandising departments since 2003, and saw his role expanded to EVP marketing and merchandising in late 2008 as part of a sweeping management shakeup that may still be underway. His shift to overseer of Walgreens’ effort to overhaul its pharmacy operation makes it clear that shakeup may continue for some time; it also underscores the importance the big drug store chain attaches to both its pharmacy and front-end renewal projects.

Replacing Riedl in his old post is Bryan Pugh, a Walmart and Tesco USA veteran, who joined the company earlier this year as VP store format development. Pugh, 46, has been named VP merchandising and will retain his role as head of store development.

Pugh will take a lead role in the company’s remerchandising and SKU rationalization program, which aims to recharge excitement at the front of the store and boost per-customer transactions by at least one additional purchase per customer, per visit.

Riedl, 48, will oversee all pharmaceutical purchasing along with rollout of the POWER initiative, a project aimed at cutting pharmacy dispensing costs and enhancing patient-pharmacist interaction by offloading such dispensing duties as prescription and claims verification to centralized “hub” pharmacies. POWER is currently operational in more than 360 Florida stores, the company reported, and is on track for a statewide rollout in all 774 Florida stores by the end of August.

Riedl joined Walgreens in 1982 as a pharmacy intern and was a store pharmacist and district pharmacy supervisor until 1991, when he moved to company headquarters. There, he held various positions in Walgreens’ pharmacy services and e-commerce departments before being named a general merchandise manager in purchasing in 2000.

Pugh spent three years with Tesco, the fast-growing European supermarket chain that has made big inroads in U.S. retailing. He designed the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market store operations model and launched the retail grocery chain on the West Coast, where it grew to 90 locations in less than a year.

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