PHARMACY

Offering infusion, specialty services

BY Jim Frederick

The past year has been eventful for Diplomat. In October 2014, the company went public with its first initial stock offering. But as it shifts its financial structure, Diplomat retains its core focus: Providing “medication management programs for people with complex chronic diseases, including oncology, immunology, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, HIV, specialized infusion therapy and many other serious or long-term conditions” in all 50 states.

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In March of this year, Diplomat acquired BioRx, a highly specialized pharmacy and infusion services company that provides treatments for patients with ultra-orphan and rare, chronic diseases. “The combined resources of both companies will make us much stronger and unique within the infusion services industry,” said chairman and CEO Phil Hagerman. The purchase, for $315 million in cash and Diplomat stock, gave a big boost to the company’s growing presence in drug infusion therapy.

Diplomat has been on a mission to vastly extend its reach into the infusion services market since December 2013, when it acquired AHF, which provides specialty drugs and infusion services for bleeding disorders. In June 2014, Diplomat also bought out MedPro, another specialty pharmacy focused on infusion for hemophilia and immune globulin.

Diplomat’s retail service division positions itself securely in that difficult terrain that lies between patients with serious chronic conditions who depend on complex, hands-on drug treatment regimens, and traditional pharmacy retailers that need outside expertise and help to serve those special-needs patients.

“Retail specialty services connects a retail pharmacy business to the specialty arena,” Diplomat stated. “Based on our broad industry experience, infrastructure and unique treatment-tracking software, retail specialty services.”

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PHARMACY

Building loyalty through satisfaction

BY Jim Frederick

What supermarket pharmacy provider scores highest in consumer satisfaction? That would be Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets, the largest employee-owned U.S. grocery chain.

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In the annual J.D. Power and Associate Satisfaction Survey, released in December 2014, Publix Pharmacy ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction in the supermarket segment for the fifth year in a row. Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous said the survey “validates our focus on the customer experience within our stores. We are committed to exceeding our customers’ expectations and helping them achieve their health-and-wellness goals.”

Publix also earned the top score among all large food and drug retailers in the 2015 Temkin Experience Ratings, which ranks quality of customer experience across 20 industries.

The chain’s pharmacies offer a growing battery of preventive services, including low-cost, five-minute cholesterol screenings by appointment; free blood-pressure screenings with counseling; vaccinations for a variety of conditions; and free pharmacist-led mini-seminars on good nutritional choices, understanding food labels and monitoring glucose levels.

Publix also has built a deep reservoir of goodwill through its prescription giveaway program, which provides free 30-day supplies of several widely used medications, including antibiotics, metformin and lisinopril. By the end of April of this year, Brous said, “we will have filled more than 50 million free prescription medications during our free script program.”

In addition, Publix is among the growing army of pharmacy operators that have embraced medication synchronization as a tool for boosting drug adherence and pharmacist counseling.

Publix also continues its steady expansion across the Southeast. “Overall, we are on target to open approximately 20 new stores in 2015,” Brous told Drug Store News.

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PHARMACY

Technology, personnel growth eyed

BY Antoinette Alexander

With its treasure-hunt style shopping and broad array of brand and private-label products at attractive prices, Costco has successfully carved out a unique business model that resonates with its 76 million cardholders. As the company continues to expand its merchandise offerings on the front end, its pharmacy operations remain a critical piece of the business.

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“I’m always on the lookout for models in which you can make the pharmacist more forward-facing. I feel like the future of the pharmacy will be more patient centered,” Michael Mastromonica, Costco’s assistant VP pharmacy services, told Drug Store News.

As healthcare reform gives rise to new models of care and new quality standards, Costco is stepping up to meet patient needs.

As part of the effort, Costco is preparing to implement in the pharmacy in the coming months a new technology tool for outcomes management, with a specific focus on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Star Ratings. The software will allow the retailer to, for example, identify those pharmacy patients who are at risk and nonadherent.

In addition, Costco is looking to hire a clinical pharmacist, who will be solely focused on outcomes opportunities and Star ratings.

Meanwhile, Costco’s travel medicine pilot continues to take flight. The program is currently in operation in about 18 beta sites along the West Coast, and will further expand to additional locations in 2015 and 2016.

Costco contracts with a physician group to handle the analytics and make the recommendations. Costco pharmacists administer the vaccines for its travel vaccination program.

The company also is looking to broaden its long-standing health screening initiative, which has included osteoporosis, cardiovascular and lung health screenings, to add A1C testing to the mix for those with diabetes.

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