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Jewel-Osco brings back ‘Give a Little, Feed a Lot’

BY Michael Johnsen

ITASCA, Ill. — Jewel-Osco on Friday announced that the company is observing Hunger Action Month this September with an aggressive campaign to raise food and funds for food banks and food pantries in the retailer’s service area.

The annual program, called "Give a Little, Feed a Lot," is going on now at all Jewel-Osco stores and will continue throughout the month of September. With nearly 17 million American children living in households that are facing hunger, this year "Give a Little, Feed a Lot" will focus on helping children in need. The program will benefit five food banks — Greater Chicago Food Depository, Northern Illinois Food Bank, the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, River Bend Foodbank and Midwest Food Bank — as well as hundreds of food pantries and the children and families served by these organizations.

During the campaign, Jewel-Osco customers can make monetary contributions when they check out at store registers. Stores also are collecting food donations. In addition, the retailer is partnering with Chicago radio station 104.3 K-HITS, to help raise awareness about "Give a Little, Feed a Lot" through weekly radio appearances at select locations.

"As a grocery retailer, providing hunger relief is a top priority for us," Jewel-Osco president Brian Huff said. "So we are excited to bring back ‘Give a Little, Feed a Lot’ and do our part to help the food banks and food pantries fight hunger in the community, especially childhood hunger."

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VoicePort launches appointment scheduler services solution

BY DSN STAFF

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — VoicePort has launched its new appointment scheduler services application.

Part of the company’s platform of unified patient communications, the app is a self-serve interface for patients to schedule a host of health-and-wellness appointments through a pharmacy’s website.

"Our appointment scheduler services application can help pharmacies address medication synchronization initiatives by allowing patients on multiple prescriptions to align their meds for pick up on a regular interval versus various times of the month, leading to increased compliance and adherence," VoicePort SVP business development Alphonse Sasso said. "Our appointment scheduler services application can be run as an independent solution or can be integrated with our other outbound services to provide a full circle approach to medication synchronization, medical therapy reviews and other important pharmacy initiatives by way of building awareness and driving patients to participate in pharmacy programs in an automated fashion. Improving the patient experience and reducing the burden on your pharmacy staff by way of automation is what we are all about at VoicePort."

VoicePort president and CEO Christopher Mann said that the app allows clients to set campaigns at the headquarters level, forward such campaigns to each store/site and to set specific resources and times of operation. "Throughout the process of setting up health-and-wellness campaigns, key pharmacy personnel at headquarters and at the store level can see added patient appointments to help manage the process in an orderly and customer-friendly fashion, thus offering a complete solution in addressing patient, store and headquarter logistics," Mann said.

Mann also noted that the app can be embedded within a client’s website. "This is important for a host of reasons, such as brand consistency, seamless advertising and most importantly, providing an easy and intuitive way for your patients to find out about and subsequently schedule appointments within your pharmacies," he said.

VoicePort noted that its latest solution is ready for deployment to pharmacy and healthcare clients.


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CMS competitive bidding program: Reducing healthcare cost through subtraction of care

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — It’s counterintuitive. The durable medical equipment competitive bidding program is supposed to reduce the cost of care, but in fact — across many rural communities — it may end up serving as a barrier to the access of that care. Though truth be told, in the end it will succeed in reducing the overall cost of care in much the same way the cost of sugarcane would be reduced in a sugar-free zone. If you can’t access the care, you can’t pay for it and, consequently, the cost of that care is less expensive. How’s that for backward math?

(THE NEWS: Louisiana pharmacist to Congress: Independents need to stay in the DME business. For the full story, click here

Impeding access to durable medical equipment impacts the quality of care accessible to diabetics. This is especially important for those living on the outskirts of "The Big Easy" — statistically speaking, 10.3% of Louisiana residents have been diagnosed with diabetes, versus a national average of 8.3%. For some in the "Bayou Country," that would mean increasing a possible five-mile trek to upwards of 50 miles, Louisiana pharmacist Randy Mire testified. And with the cost of gas right now eclipsing $4 per gallon in the New Orleans area, that’s an additional cost burden for Louisiana’s rural diabetics.

But the impact of not exempting community pharmacies from the DME competitive bidding program will extend well beyond the state. "By 2016, all DME suppliers, mail order and retail, will be subject to competitive bidding or competitive bidding pricing for [diabetes testing supplies]," noted the National Community Pharmacists Association in written testimony to Congress. "In addition, unfortunately, in the context of the national mail order [competitive bidding program], CMS is prohibiting retail pharmacies from providing home delivered [diabetes testing supplies] unless such a pharmacy wins a national mail-order [competitive bidding program] contract."

If that drives 92% of independents out of the diabetes business, as NCPA’s poll suggests, that will be one bitter pill for rural diabetics across the country to swallow, and all without a bit of sweetener in sight. Well, at least not for 50 country miles.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.

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