PHARMACY

Bridging pharmacy, nutrition

BY Richard Monks

With a vast network of supermarkets and a variety of stand-alone drug store formats, Metro Inc. has carved out a strong position in Ontario and Quebec by stressing the crucial link between pharmacies, nutrition and overall wellness.

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All of its pharmacists in Ontario, for example, have completed an accredited continuing education course on nutrition.

“The nutrition initiatives that our pharmacists have been able to implement into their pharmacy’s service offering enable them to enhance the patient care provided,” she said. “These programs empower patients to better manage their own health as it relates to their medications and health conditions.”

In some instances, the spokeswoman noted, Metro pharmacies have offered specialized clinics catering to specific patient populations in collaboration with other health professionals. One of the more visible of these efforts has been pharmacists’ collaboration with a registered dietitian on diabetes screening clinics, helping to raise awareness of the disease and root out undiagnosed cases.

Metro’s 71 Ontario-based pharmacies, operating under the Pharmacy and Drug Basics banners, also have been at the heart of a government-funded smoking cessation program for patients covered by the province’s drug benefit system.

“The program contains all of the elements required by the Ontario Ministry of Health, but is enhanced with the addition of a lung function assessment to screen enrolled customers for COPD and to determine their lung age,” the spokeswoman said. “This assessment is valuable to ensure those with possible COPD receive the appropriate follow-up, along with providing measurable variables that can help educate and motivate individuals toward a smoke-free lifestyle.”

Many of these efforts also have extended to the company’s pharmacy network in Quebec, where it is the franchisor and distributor for 194 franchised Brunet Plus, Brunet, Brunet Clinique, Brunet Target, and Clini Plus drug stores.
 

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PHARMACY

Supporting succession plans

BY Barbara White-Sax

In early 2015, Bartell Drugs celebrated its 125th anniversary and named a new president. Brian Unmacht took the helm as president of the family-owned chain in the first quarter of 2015 after serving as a member of Bartell Drugs’ board of directors since 2011. Previously, Unmacht was executive VP and COO at REI.

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Bartell Drugs’ chairman and CEO George D. Bartell said that filling the position at the 63-store chain supports future succession plans. Bartell Drugs is the oldest and largest family-owned drug store chain in the United States.

Last year, Bartell added a Group Health CareClinic to an additional location, bringing the total to three. The CareClinics, opened in partnership with Group Health and staffed with Group Health nurse practitioners and physician assistants, will get a wider rollout, with four to five added in additional Bartell locations in 2015. The clinics are open on evenings and weekends.

Adding CareClinic facilities is one way Bartell employs “high touch, high service” features to differentiate itself from competitors. Services that can only be offered in store allow the chain to compete with online channels.

In 2016, the chain will open a new store in the Ballard area of Seattle. The 14,000-sq.-ft. location will be a “next generation” store that will introduce new services, product offerings and customer convenience features.

Through its pharmacies, Bartell offers a variety of immunizations and health screening services. The chain offers pharmacy refill and reminder services with its MyAutoScript program, and allows patients to sync their prescription refills with its MyRxSync service.

Bartell offers in-store health and beauty events twice a year, during which it offers digital mammography screenings in cooperation with Evergreen Medical Hospital and a variety of other health and beauty offers.

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Improving the shopper experience

BY Michael Johnsen

Weis Markets earlier this year named longtime pharmacy veteran Rick Bhandari — who has helped manage pharmacy for Bi-Lo Holdings, CVS Health and Rite Aid over the course of his career — as director pharmacy operations. He’s assuming the day-to-day responsibilities for a burgeoning pharmacy business — Weis’ comparable pharmacy sales increased 8.5% in 2014 compared with 2013, according to Weis’ 2014 annual report, and this is following a year in which same-store pharmacy sales were down 2.2%.

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A lot of that can be attributed to more patients filling prescriptions, the company said. In addition to picking up more patients across its pharmacy operations, Weis has successfully implemented in-store pet medication, emphasized a continued focus on immunization and implemented a successful medication synchronization program to help drive the back-bench business. “Also contributing to the increase are some of the company’s stores having expanded pharmacy hours,” the company stated in its 10-K.

The grocer is looking to build on its 2014 success with a continued focus on value and customer experience. “Over the past year, we steadily invested in our pricing programs and successfully executed our strategy, which has produced consistent sales increases in key center store and fresh departments,” said Jonathan Weis, Weis Markets’ president and CEO, regarding the company’s year-end results. “We also improved our in-store customer experience and increased our customer service focus. As a result of our investments and customer service programs, we are well-positioned to build on our success in 2015.”

As one example of their drive to improve the shopper experience, Weis launched an online shopping service with in-store pickup through 20 locations earlier this year. “Weis Online Shopping works particularly well for customers who don’t have the time or ability to shop, including double-income households, families with small children and customers with mobility issues,” said Kurt Schertle, Weis Markets’ COO.

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