PHARMACY

Health and beauty share spotlight

BY Richard Monks

The Jean Coutu Group provides shoppers in three Canadian provinces with what has become a hallmark of 21st century drug store retailing.

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Combining top-notch health care with one of the industry’s most comprehensive and visually appealing beauty care offerings, the 413-store chain gives shoppers across Quebec and parts of New Foundland and Ontario aspects of both mass retailing and specialty stores.

A spokeswoman explained that the company’s extensive selection of mass market and prestige brands — many of them unique to Jean Coutu stores — are merchandised in upscale departments staffed by trained cosmeticians, helping the chain attract shoppers who would otherwise shop for these products only in upscale outlets.

At the same time, an intense focus on health and wellness make the company’s stores the go-to retailer for prescription drugs and related products.

As in the United States, the evolution of Canada’s government-funded health system in recent years has seen pharmacists take on a greater role in patient care.

Jean Coutu has been at the forefront of this shift. The Pro Doc generic drug manufacturing unit it has operated since 2007, for instance, has allowed the company to be at the heart of the national movement toward greater use of generic drugs.

Jean Coutu’s commitment to providing patients with a comprehensive healthcare offering has also helped it move into the orthotic and prosthetic devices arena through a partnership with Le Groupe Medicus Inc.

Executives said these expanded healthcare services help Jean Coutu’s pharmacies offer a wider range of services, complementing the wide array of more programs and services that they have traditionally offered.

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PHARMACY

Increasing focus on diabetes care

BY Michael Johnsen

Ahold USA’s COO James McCann earlier this year outlined the driving force behind the supermarket operator’s overarching initiatives — improve customer perceptions of its U.S. operations across quality and service, as well as price. Operating under the Stop & Shop, Giant/ Martin’s and Giant Landover banners, Ahold USA’s high-touch pharmacy business aims to do just that through its focus on diabetes care, Brad Dayton, Ahold USA VP pharmacy, told Drug Store News. “[Through these initiatives], we believe that we can influence customers’ health outcomes and, consequently, their overall healthcare spend,” he said.

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Today, more than 400 Ahold USA pharmacists are specially trained and certified in patient-centered diabetes care, and that will extend to all of Ahold USA’s pharmacy operations by yearend. “These pharmacists are engaging their patients in ways we’ve never done before,” Dayton said. “From one-on-one consultations to in-store diabetes management classes, we’re reaching patients in innovative and relevant ways.”

Joining Ahold USA pharmacists on the frontline of health delivery is the company’s in-store nutritionists. “We’re fortunate to have an ever-growing stable of nutritionists in the stores, and we’re leveraging their expertise in unique ways,” Dayton said. For example, many nutritionists and diabetes care pharmacists are teaming up to lead diabetes management classes at their stores and in the community.

Additionally, Ahold USA nutritionists recently created a web-based learning module to give pharmacists practical nutritional advice that they can incorporate into conversations with their patients about heart disease and diabetes. “Maintaining a proper diet is as important as medication for conditions like heart disease and diabetes. The unfortunate reality, however, is that many pharmacists feel uncomfortable discussing nutrition with their patients. We’ve taken some steps to build our pharmacists’ nutritional IQ, and, as a result, their confidence,” Dayton said.

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Building marketing clout

BY Jim Frederick

Created in September 2009 with the merger of Phoenix-based United Drugs and Scottsboro, Ala.-based Associated Pharmacies, AAP remains a member-owned cooperative and buying group offering independent operators the negotiating power of a national pharmacy network “working together like a chain.”

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Last year, marketing director Emily Marino said, the cooperative “focused on three main initiatives that would align our members’ goals with that of the industry.”

To that end, AAP beefed up its Quality Center, an online resource for members that analyzes claims against Medicare’s Star ratings criteria and provides pharmacies with a daily activity list to improve adherence and medication safety scores.

“To ensure our pharmacies stay ahead of the curve, we designed tools and programs, such as the Quality Center, that help our pharmacies continue to provide superior quality service and participate effectively in these pay-for-performance programs,” said Rob McMahan, president of AAP’s United Drugs division.

In 2014, AAP also launched a major campaign to help its members gain entry into specialty medicines. “AAP launched AAP Specialty in 2014 for our pharmacies to be trained in-house and given the tools they need to become a specialty pharmacy,” Marino said.

The new specialty unit “provides a centralized hub service for our member pharmacies, and manages the clinical, financial, prior authorization, data aggregation, medication safety and adherence services,” Marino said.

AAP’s third major initiative has been “focused on enhancing our member-owned warehouse capabilities,” Marino told DSN. “In 2014, AAP developed a more streamlined process by installing automation equipment located in our Memphis distribution center,” she said. “This allows the API warehouse to continue providing next-day delivery at the best prices for our members.”

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