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Making retail pharmacy a one-stop healthcare destination

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The virtual clinic services that Rite Aid is offering at its stores in Detroit are emblematic of the increasingly important role of retail pharmacy in health care and the pharmacy’s growing position as a one-stop destination for health.

(THE NEWS: Rite Aid offers ‘virtual’ clinics. For the full story, click here)

In a recent interview, National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation president Edith Rosato told Drug Store News that the organization already is working with state governments to lower the age at which children can receive vaccinations at the pharmacy, as well as expanding the range of vaccinations that pharmacists can administer, creating yet another clinical role for pharmacy.

Online virtual doctor visits have been around for some time. Zipnosis.com, for example, allows patients to log onto the site, answer the same questions a healthcare provider would ask a patient and, once the evaluation is complete, receive a response from a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant. Depending on the condition and the interview, a patient can receive anything from advice to a referral or even an electronic prescription. Zipnosis plans to expand to 10 states by the end of this year.

What makes Rite Aid’s collaboration with OptumHealth significant is that it brings these services into the store, giving the patient immediate access to the pharmacy, offering access to expertise from physicians, nurses and pharmacists — without the need to have the former two physically present in the store — and, if patients receive prescriptions, it offers the convenience of the pharmacy literally just a few steps away.

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CDC: Flu-associated deaths among young people could be prevented if they are vaccinated

BY Allison Cerra

ATLANTA — New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 115 people ages 18 years and younger died from influenza-related causes between September 2010 and August 2011.

Despite the agency issuing a recommendation for vaccination of all children ages 6 months and older back in 2008, only 23% of the 74 children older than 6 months of age with a known vaccination history had received their flu vaccine last season.

The CDC said that though it is rare for children and teenagers to die from flu-related deaths, many of them could have been avoided if they were vaccinated against the flu.

“It′s vital that children get vaccinated,” CDC′s Surveillance and Outbreak Response Team chief Lyn Finelli said. “We know the flu vaccine isn′t 100% effective, especially not in children with high risk medical conditions. That′s why it′s essential that these two medical tools be fully utilized. Vaccinate first; then use influenza antiviral drugs as a second line of defense against the flu. Right now we aren′t fully using the medical tools at our disposal to prevent flu illnesses and deaths in children.”

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Bloomberg reports gloomy consumer outlook

BY Katherine Field Boccaccio

WASHINGTON — A report released Thursday by Bloomberg said that U.S. consumer confidence held last week at the second-lowest level of 2011 as the highest number of households in three years said it was a bad time to spend.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index was minus 49.3 in the period to Sept. 11, near the 2011 low of minus 49.4 reached in May. The buying climate gauge slumped to the lowest level since October 2008.

According to the report, the majority — 9-out-of-10 — of Americans polled had a negative view on the economy.

The consumer comfort gauge has been stuck below minus 40 — the level associated with recessions or their aftermath — since the end of February. It has averaged minus 45.4 this year, compared with minus 45.7 for 2010 and minus 47.9 in 2009, the year the last recession ended, according to the report.

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