Kerr expands health focus beyond stores
Kerr Drug describes its free prescription delivery service — launched in fall 2010 and renewed to positive customer response for 2011 — as “old school innovation.” If “old school” means anticipating consumers’ health and everyday-product needs, and meeting them with a down-home approach to store service and a broader-than-usual menu of pharmacy care options, then the tag could apply to Kerr’s entire business strategy.
The chain has pruned its retail network to a core group of 76 high-yield drug stores and a number of clinical pharmacies, all in North Carolina, as well as a combination specialty pharmacy and mail-order center in its home market of Raleigh. “We have fewer properties now, but all of them are excellent,” asserted Diane Eliezer, Kerr’s director of marketing.
After developing a groundbreaking array of retail health services offered through a variety of drug store formats, Kerr remains one of chain pharmacy’s most innovative retail health providers. With the launch last year of Kerr Health, a separate division devoted to providing clinical pharmacy and wellness services directly to employers, long-term care facilities and other entities, the company has broadened its health focus well beyond the drug store setting.
Ten Kerr stores still feature “an expanded clinical presence” ranging from “a clinical office that does screenings” to “a full Community Care Center,” Eliezer told Drug Store News. These days, however, the chain’s highly regarded clinical pharmacy team is “out of the store as much or more than they’re in,” she said, as they provide immunizations, health screenings and other services to business and community organizations through Kerr Health.
“Originally, we thought there would be much more of a retail application with that, but it turns out that has not grown as quickly as we’d hoped. But there’s a great deal of business … out of the store, as well as [medication therapy management] and immunizations in the store,” Eliezer explained.
Meanwhile, the chain maintains its pioneering approach to community-based health care. Kerr was the first drug chain, for instance, to launch ActiveCare’s ActiveOne PAL, or personal assistance link, a rapid-response system that links seniors via a one-touch cell phone link to emergency health providers.
BioScrip unites community, specialty Rx
As a specialty pharmacy provider, BioScrip probably isn’t the first name that comes to mind when one hears “retail pharmacy,” but its network of 31 community pharmacies around the country gives it a comfy spot at the table. The kinds of products and services it’s able to offer — ranging from home infusion and treatments for complex, chronic disease states to over-the-counter medications and sometimes even consumables — as a result of its combination of community pharmacy and specialty pharmacy make BioScrip stand out.
In July 2010, it spent $10.5 million to close the purchase of DS Pharmacy, the prescription drugs business of Drugstore.com, a deal that also included an agreement whereby customers could order prescription drugs from BioScrip through the Drugstore.com website. In March, Walgreens purchased the remaining portions of Drugstore.com for $429 million.
In February, BioScrip launched a Web-based service at MyBioScrip.com designed to connect healthcare professionals, patients and caregivers in order to help patients manage their medications and improve their overall care experience. The site uses HealthyCircles, an online platform that enables people to manage and share health information. “It’s time we created a patient- centric model in the specialty space, and BioScrip is proud to be the first,” said Rick Smith, who replaced Richard Friedman as CEO in January.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the company’s strategy and approach to pharmacy has earned it a healthy amount of recognition. Last month, the Washington-based healthcare accrediting organization URAC awarded BioScrip its specialty pharmacy and mail-service pharmacy accreditation. Gaining the accreditation required it to participate in a complex application process that included comprehensive review of its customer service and clinical pharmacy processes against a combined 146 quality standards by expert analysts.
In addition to its community pharmacies, BioScrip operates 33 home nursing locations, 45 home infusion locations, three mail-service facilities and two contract-affiliated infusion pharmacies.
Hannaford provides guiding star to health
Hannaford’s commitment to health and wellness made headlines back in 2006 when it implemented the innovative Guiding Stars system — the first storewide nutrition navigation system in the United States. Now, five years later, the company’s dedication to healthy living remains strong.
Since the program’s launch, more fresh items and private-brand foods have been added to the system. As of the end of 2009, there were more than 16,500 products that were “starred.” The star-rating system rates food products and prepared meals, and is now featured on shelf tags and in-store communication at the Hannaford, Food Lion, Bloom and Sweetbay banners. Through licensing, Hannaford introduced Guiding Stars to universities in New Hampshire and Maine and to a public school system in Maine where it used it to star-rate prepared meals.
The retailer also is leveraging technology to help shoppers live healthier lives. By visiting MyHannaford.com, shoppers can make up to 10 personalized shopping lists, access their shopping list from their smartphone and set preferences for dietary restrictions.
The grocer also offers free nutrition classes across New England, covering such topics as eating for healthy blood sugars and prenatal nutrition. Registered dietitians lead the classes, and free samples are given out at every class.
Furthermore, in early 2010, Hannaford, which is owned by Belgium-based Delhaize Group, became the first grocer in the United States to introduce the ”Keep Local Farms” initiative at all of its stores. The program is designed to assist fundraising for local dairy farmers and to ensure a local fresh supply of milk.
Meanwhile, in addition to offering such pharmacy services as free blood-pressure checks and free flavoring of liquid medications, the grocery continues to offer its Healthy Saver Plus program to help patients save money on prescriptions, vision care, hearing aids, certain diabetic supplies and more.