Kevin Hourican
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Enabling patient-facing care: Pharmacists at the top of their licenses

BY David Orgel

Pharmacists still are waiting for the handcuffs to come off. That’s the consensus of industry leaders who are frustrated with the challenges of getting reimbursements for a wider range of services these professionals can perform. It’s a topic at the center of enabling patient care in community-based pharmacy.

“We talk about pharmacists being able to practice at the top of their license,” said CVS Health executive vice president of retail pharmacy and supply chain Kevin Hourican.

“What’s disappointing is that the regulations sometimes significantly lag [with] what the customers actually want.”

He pointed to point-of-care testing as a key area where pharmacists could rise to their full potential.

“A patient could come to a 24-hour pharmacy when a doctor isn’t available to have tests completed. There would be prescriber authority to be able to write for antibiotics, for example, for a positive strep throat test.”

Further, pharmacists could play bigger roles in helping patients determine if they need cholesterol medications, or hypertension medications, he said.

“We believe the pharmacist can play an even more important role in this space,” he said, especially given the convenient locations for patients.

Hourican emphasized that the industry is collaborating to make progress on this goal.

“We are working with many industry partners and NACDS to help advance forward improvements to select regulations, so we can serve the communities and our patients more appropriately.”

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Upping your inventory protection game

BY Del Williams
For retailers of such high-end consumer electronics as smartphones, tablets, e-readers, drones, digital cameras and fitness watches, the customer’s retail experience can be just as important as loss prevention. Often the look, feel and performance of a product on display in a store, including the ability to interact and fully experience features, such as menus and apps, can be crucial to a customer’s purchasing decision. 
 
Yet, retailers cannot let expensive merchandise walk out the door due to shoplifting or employee theft. Electronic loss prevention devices, which typically involve an alarm console, sensors and related accessories, are the ideal way to display this type of merchandise.
 
As an increasing number of new consumer electronics products hits the market, and retailers face competitive pressure to reduce costs and staffing, a greater array of options is further improving this category’s appeal in the industry.
 
“Customers need to interact with our latest smartphones to see what has changed and how the devices perform,” said Bill Jones, an AT&T regional director of asset protection. “But it is a balancing act between customer-product interaction and theft deterrence.”
 
According to Jones, who evaluates loss prevention system cost and effectiveness, in today’s competitive retail environment, how a product looks and feels when displayed can affect a retailer’s bottom line just as much as theft prevention.
 
“We want the focus to be on the product, rather than on the power and security cords,” Jones said.
 
Improving product presentation

Any electronic loss prevention device — whether it be an alarm console, sensor, pedestal stand, grippers, tethering or charging cable — should not overshadow the product itself or be cumbersome or difficult to maintain by employees. To meet this need, innovators offer a variety of loss prevention devices that secure electronic products without the mess and clutter.[pb]
 
A growing number of retailers are turning to such electronic merchandise display security systems as the Vantage II by Se-Kure Controls, a Franklin Park, Ill.-based manufacturer of retail product security devices. While most systems require separate wires for security and charging the electronic device it protects, this system utilizes a single wire to provide both security and power.  
 
“One of the things that drew us to our display security system is how nice, clean and modern it looked to have the one cord,” said Kevin Lasky, project manager at Austin, Texas-based Arch Telecom, a wireless retailer with 140 locations in 13 states. “There is no separate cable running up the side of the pedestal or coming out of the display to charge the phone. That was important to us.”
 
To facilitate customer-product interaction in stores, retailers can pair each smartphone with a retractable cord, so it can be pulled off its pedestal and easily viewed several feet away. When the shopper returns the phone to the pedestal, the cord retracts and a magnet enables ideal product positioning.
 
AT&T’s Jones said he also is impressed with the simplified, cleaner look of the single-cord approach. It also simplifies removal of electronic products to a more secure location each evening to prevent “smash and grab” robbery attempts.
 
“At the end of each day, we put all our devices in an inventory room, and then each morning we put them back on the display counters,” Jones said. “Having just one cord helps us close down and set back up faster.” According to Jones, Se-Kure Controls’ systems also are very sturdy and durable. He estimates that not having to repair or replace such items as the alarm box or power/security cords often can lead to significant savings annually. “In an organization as big as ours, it can add up to millions of dollars over time,” Jones said. 
 
For more info, visit se-kure.com.
 
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Overcoming barriers to patient-facing care

BY David Orgel

There is no shortage of hurdles when it comes to achieving patient-facing care. Here are some key challenges and how the industry is trying to address them.

Long wait times: The biggest reason for dissatisfaction with a pharmacy is long wait times, said Oscar Cateriano, director of dispensing U.S. Retail, at BD.

“This should not be happening, and collectively BD is working with retailers to help solve this,” he added, citing third-party research that his company supported. One way to address the challenge of wait times is to “bifurcate” strategies by becoming more efficient with prescriptions for certain patients in order to open more time for those who need individualized pharmacist services, said Kevin Hourican, CVS Health executive vice president of retail pharmacy and supply chain.

Provider status: The industry needs to have pharmacists get reimbursed for services other than just dispensing medications. “That’s one of the biggest barriers holding us back as an industry,” said Rick Gates, Walgreens group vice president of pharmacy. “Provider status is going to give us a reimbursement mechanism for additional healthcare services.”

Technician staffing ratios: States mandate different ratios for the number of technicians per pharmacist. The lack of uniformity makes it hard to standardize across the country. “We have pharmacists doing technician labor in select states, because in those states the ratios don’t allow for them to be doing purely pharmacist work,” Hourican said. “We believe passionately that this needs to be changed. We can improve access to health care with legislative reform.”

Electronic health records: Pharmacists need more access to patient records in real time. “As intimate as we get with the patient, it would be great to have even more connectivity with the providers they have, at the time of point of sale when we’re really engaging with the patient,” Thrifty White COO Tim Weippert said.

Changing ecosystem: Industry disruption has led more dollars to flow out of hospitals and has produced changes in the traditional ranks of healthcare providers. This is a challenge, but also an opportunity for pharmacists to expand their levels of care by adapting to these fast-paced changes. Technology “is the great enabler” for connecting pharmacists to the wider ecosystem centered on the patient, said Doyle Jensen, executive vice president of global business development at Innovation.

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