Panelists at NACDS TSE examine in-store testing
Cheryl Miller and John Tamerius of Quidel, Karen Mankowski of Meijer, Michael Klepser of Ferris State and Alex Adams of NACDS discuss point-of-care screening in the pharmacy.
With diabetes and other diseases at epidemic levels, the need for more pharmacies to step up and offer accessible, convenient patient screening for a variety of serious and even life-threatening conditions is clear, a panel of pharmacists asserted at the NACDS Total Store Expo “Convenient Care — Point of Care Testing in the Pharmacy” Insight Session in late August. So, too, is the opportunity to drive new business to the pharmacy through point-of-care testing services.
(For the full report, including charts, click here.)
Panelists included Michael Klepser, professor of pharmacy practice with Ferris State University in Michigan; Karen Mankowski, VP pharmacy retail operations at Meijer; John Tamerius, SVP clinical and regulatory affairs for Quidel Corp.; and Cheryl Miller, Quidel’s director of strategic operations. The event was moderated by Alex Adams, National Association of Chain Drug Stores VP
Point-of-care screening of patients at the pharmacy is rapidly gaining validity among patients and other health professionals, including doctors, as the need for more immediate and responsive health and preventive care
To advance the concept, Ferris State collaborated with Meijer on a pilot project funded by the NACDS Foundation. Under the program, Meijer offered free testing for influenza and strep throat at 12 of its stores. Six of those stores were set up as collaborative practice sites integrated with a local physician.
The results showed real benefits both for patients and participating pharmacies, Mankowski said. Not only did pharmacists catch undiagnosed conditions among some patients, but “1-in-3 patients who came into the test program did not have a primary care physician,” she said.
Although there was “some apprehension” among some pharmacists and “some push back” from a few local doctors, Mankowski said resistance melted away as the value of point-of-care pharmacy-based health screenings became clear. “We view point-of-care testing as a very viable model,” she said.
Klepser added, “This is going to be bigger than immunizations” for retail pharmacy. “Pharmacists are essentially going to be the GPs (general practitioners) of the future.”
Hispanic surge bodes well for retail pharmacy
The U.S. Hispanic population is projected to reach 128.8 million by 2060, or more than 30% of the U.S. population. This could bode especially well for purveyors of health products and services in the pharmacy setting. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute, perhaps more than any other consumer group, Hispanics are cost-conscious, mobile savvy and do not necessarily seek health care within the traditional $2.8 trillion U.S. healthcare system.
(For the full report, including charts, click here.)
In fact, Hispanics are less likely than other consumers to use a doctor as their primary caregiver when facing a non-emergency condition (66% vs. 76%). The key attribute that makes the Hispanic demographic so critical to retail pharmacy operators is the fact that Hispanic health consumers are open to means of care that are an alternative to seeing a doctor. This means they’re not only shopping the OTC aisles more often, but Hispanic consumers also are more likely to frequent retail clinics.
According to the HRI Hispanic consumer survey, 57% of Hispanic consumers have utilized a retail clinic at least once, vs. 45% of non-Hispanics. “They may postpone or delay going to see a physician, but they may be open to seeking alternatives or alternative sources of care, whether it’s at a retail clinic or at a pharmacy,” said Frank Lemmon, strategy and operations principal for PricewaterhouseCoopers. There could be a number of factors driving that decision, Lemmon said, such as the value associated with the healthcare visit or the credence associated with pharmacy. “Because pharmacies are so prevalent in many Latin American countries, there’s more trust in the pharmacy and the pharmacist to treat their condition than there is in any sort of medical institution.”
On average, cost is most important to Hispanics when it comes to care, while quality is most important for non-Hispanics. Approximately 46% of Hispanics vs. 35% of non-Hispanics consider cost most important; 53% of non-Hispanics vs. 42% of Hispanics consider quality most important.
Hispanics also are more likely with download coupons to a phone than other consumers (25% compared with 17%). PwC suggested this might be an opportunity for pharmaceutical companies and retail pharmacies to improve medication adherence by making prescription discounts accessible by mobile devices.
Overall, more Hispanics than non-Hispanics use social media, mobile apps and Internet searches to find information about their medical care, and Hispanics are more likely to be influenced by the information when making decisions about care. According to PwC research, nearly one-fifth of Hispanics said they are already using an app or the Internet to make medical appointments. Another 31% said they would be very willing to. “For many of them, mobile is their only access to the Internet, so it’s the way they’re using technology to connect [to] social groups,” Lemmon said.