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PDS recognizes Health Mart pharmacy team for perseverance

BY Michael Johnsen

James Drug Store, a Health Mart pharmacy in Denham Springs, La., received the Team of the Year Award from Pharmacy Development Services earlier this week. Chris Dimos, president of retail solutions, McKesson, presented the award at the PDS Super-Conference held in Orlando, Fla. last week.

“Health Mart and McKesson are proud to recognize the outstanding team at James Drug Store for their resilience and outstanding performance in the face of both natural disasters and business setbacks,” Dimos said. “Pat Brian and his team banded together to not only meet these challenges, but exceed expectations for the pharmacy’s ongoing clinical and business performance. They are very deserving of this recognition and I hope that they will continue to serve as a role model for how pharmacies can perform at their best – during good times and challenging times.”

In 2016, a severe flood devastated Denham Springs, destroying nearly 400 businesses and damaging more than 75% of the homes, including the homes of Brian and the store’s owner, Herman Crotwell. Despite the fact that many of the staff had lost everything in the flood, James Drug Store was open the next day serving customers.

The team’s resilience was tested again in 2017 when their prescription long-term care business, in partnership with another organization and due for expansion, was unexpectedly terminated. As a result, the team went from filling 42,000 prescriptions per month to 17,000.

Tapping into the tools provided at the Super-Conference, Brian was encouraged to replace the business with an in-depth focus on compounding and the launch of a weight loss protocol. These steps added 62% to the store’s net profit in 2017 and the team replaced 75% of the lost income. Brian expects they will soon replace all lost income and create a clinic in the space initially dedicated to the LTC expansion.

The Team of the Year Award recognizes a PDS member pharmacy that has exemplified leadership and teamwork. The recipient serves as an example of how a model pharmacy team should work. The James Drug Store team, a Health Mart pharmacy, received the award in recognition of their resilience in the face of adversity.

McKesson’s Health Mart supports a network of nearly 5,000 independent pharmacies with solutions that help pharmacists improve clinical performance, manage operational changes and discover additional revenue opportunities to build and maintain a thriving business.

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Upstart AiFi promises checkout-free store ‘orders of magnitude’ bigger than Amazon Go

BY David Salazar

Amazon might want to be on its guard. Just a few weeks after launching its Amazon Go checkout-free brick-and-mortar store concept, the company already has potential competition in convenience innovation. The challenger, Santa Clara, Calif.-based AiFi, a self-described “computer vision technology company,” said Tuesday it has created a scalable checkout-free solution for stores of any size. AiFi has teased a pending rollout with a major retailer on a scale CEO Steve Gu said would be “orders of magnitude bigger than the Amazon Go store.”

“Consumers and businesses alike want to be efficient and with a checkout-free store, consumers have an incredible shopping experience,” Gu said. “The shopping experience now demonstrated and widely promoted by Amazon is just the tiniest taste of what the AiFi technology will do for retailers — with shops that range from tiny to huge.”

AiFi’s concept uses artificial intelligence, sensor and camera networks and an integrated system to make a checkout-free experience possible for any retailer, the company said. AiFi said that its solution combines AI algorithms that can track people in real-time and recognize actions and products with a camera technology that it said can adapt to a large store or a small corner store. Systems in AiFi’s solution continuously track shoppers in-store, recognizing them as they make their way through the aisles — even recognizing people shopping together as a group. As with Amazon Go, with AiFi’s technology, shoppers can walk out the store and be charged for what they pick up without standing in a checkout line.

According to Gu, Americans spent roughly 37 billion hours in line last year, during which more than 90% of retail sales came from physical stores. The new focus for retailers is convenience for shoppers and increased inventory management capabilities for retailers. AiFI’s technology can recognize tens of thousands of SKU item numbers based on AI, the company said, noting that once installed with no major retrofitting, it offers retailers inventory management data and insights into shopping behavior and preferences.

Once it rolls out at the end of the year, AiFi will highlight that a retailer doesn’t need to have Amazon’s scale to deliver on convenience, Gu said.

“Because our technology is massively scalable, tens of thousands of stores worldwide can become a ‘grab-and-go’ type of retailer,” he said. “Our solution helps stores run more efficiently and provides customers with a better shopping experience. Run in, grab what you need and continue on with your day. Easier for shoppers and more insights and real-time statistics for stores so they can better serve their customers and manage overall operations.”

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Report: MedExpress, Walgreens pilots grow to 15 locations

BY Michael Johnsen

The coupling of UnitedHealth Group’s MedExpress urgent care centers to select Walgreens locations has grown to 15 locations, according to a Forbes report published last week.

“We have about a dozen or so locations that we brought online throughout 2017 and that was really to see whether not a retail side of service, in this case with Walgreens, would be an attractive venue for care delivery,” David Wichmann, CEO UnitedHealth Group, told shareholders in January. “The results are not near final but we’re hoping that our MedExpress surgical care model with an adjunct pharmacy performs as good or better than without, meaning that we can provide more convenient service to consumers at a lower cost and with very, very high levels of quality as MedExpress. … This is just part of developing an overall higher performing local health systems. So it [would] just be one component that’s maybe nested inside a local care delivery market with ambulatory surgical capacities and house calls and things of that nature.”

“It makes sense from a customer and patient point of view that you can go in and get yourselves sorted, when you have an accident or when you need a medical or something of that type, which is what MedExpress does,” Alex Gourlay, co-COO Walgreens Boots Alliance, told shareholders in a separate conference call. “In terms of the clinics, we’re really pleased with the partnerships we’ve got there. They are local, which is important to the health systems. We are providing different services depending on what we want to do and what the local needs are, and it fits really well into Walgreens’ brand [identity].”

The most recent MedExpress Urgent Care centers debuted last month in the Las Vegas market, which also marked the first MedExpress locations in Nevada. Conveniently connected to Walgreens, the MedExpress neighborhood medical centers offer patients walk-in treatment for urgent care, employer health services and basic wellness and prevention.

“MedExpress is a resource for busy families and employers that need timely access to affordable, high-quality health care close to home and work,” Fred Hinz, regional vice president, MedExpress, said. “We put each patient at the center of everything we do and focus on exceeding expectations by providing the best possible experience. Being connected to Walgreens will enable our patients to receive quality care and purchase any other items they need, all in one trip.”

“For now, the effort between the Optum healthcare provider unit of the nation’s largest health insurer and the nation’s largest drugstore chain is a pilot project. But the venture is creating buzz among investors as rival pharmacy chain CVS Health has promised primary care pilots of its own after it completes its $69 billion acquisition of Aetna, the nation’s third-largest health insurer,” wrote Bruce Japsen, Forbes contributor.

Each neighborhood medical center has a separate entrance and multiple exam rooms, a procedure room and an X-ray suite. In addition to offering treatment for everyday illnesses and injuries, MedExpress provides health services for local employers, including workers’ compensation injuries, injury care, pre- and ongoing employment screenings, physicals and regulatory exams. Basic wellness and prevention services include physicals, immunizations and other services to help patients maintain good health.

The centers are staffed by a full medical team that includes nurses, medical providers, radiologic technologists and customer service representatives.

Forbes reported there are 15 locations in six states that have MedExpress urgent care centers connected to Walgreens stores as part of the pilot. The markets include Las Vegas, Dallas, Minneapolis, Omaha, Neb., two cities in West Virginia and Martinsville, Va.

 

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