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A quick look at the top GM trends for 2018

BY DSN STAFF
Drug Store News has assembled a list of top trends positioned to impact retail in 2018 that general merchandise companies can get in on.
• Home decor: Trends to look for include geometric patterns; typography messaging on home goods; such natural elements as hard-carved wood being featured in lamps, bowls and pots; fringe on pillows and blankets; hand-painted metallic elements; and iridescent accents and accessories.
• Florals: Such floral flavors as lavender, rose and hibiscus being used in granola, latte and sweets. And according to officials at Whole Foods, look for elderflower to gain in popularity in 2018.
• Technology: Small, portable and highly customizable personal 3-D printers are a growing area of interest for consumers
• Charging accessories: For many, smartphones are a necessity, but it is no secret they are power drains. Portable power banks solve that problem and come in a variety of styles, colors and capacities.
• Fandom items: Fan wearables are always hot, whether promoting a sports team, hobby, lifestyle or TV show. Key products include mugs, T-shirts, stickers, car decals, mouse pads or totes.
• Lab-grade equipment: Formerly only available to professionals, high-tech devices such as spectrometers will soon be available to the public. For anyone looking to better understand what is in a product this will be the must-have item for 2018.
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En-Vision America focuses on the bigger picture

BY Seth Mendelson
Nearly 20 million Americans have trouble reading or understanding a prescription label. Officials at En-Vision America say they have a solution. 
 
The Palmetto, Fla.-based company is offering a range of solutions to help pharmacists make their labels easier to read and understand. “Our products are designed to help patients safely and independently manage their medications,” said David Raistrick, vice president and Chief Technology Officer at the company. “Our mission is to provide better outcomes for the patient and to give the pharmacist the opportunity to extend the pharmacy counter into the patient’s home.  We believe that in order to improve outcomes, what better place to start than the label on the medication.”
 
En-Vision offers ScripView Large Print Labels, a booklet-style label design that permanently affixes to the medication container and serves as an auxiliary to the standard pharmacy label. The product is designed for elderly and low- vision patients. “It does not take the place of the legal prescription label,” Raistrick noted. “It gives information in a larger font to make it much easier for the patient to read.”
 
For patients who have even more difficulty reading, the company offers ScripTalk, an audible output label that allows pharmacists to place a small electronic tag onto any container and the patient uses an app or tabletop reader to hear the information aloud through RFID technology. The product is best for patients who are blind, dyslexic or illiterate, he said. 
 
En-Vision software provides Grade 2 Braille and also will translate labels into 17 languages through pharmacist-verified translations. “Our products are designed to help the pharmacist better connect with all of their patients,” Raistrick added. “Our software allows for full integration with most pharmacy software systems. It is a giant leap forward toward helping customers stay safe.”
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Enabling adherence through software, packaging

BY Jim Frederick

The costs of medication nonadherence — both in terms of lost lives and a massive waste of therapeutic resources — have weighed heavily on patients and health plan payers, and made adherence efforts a priority for most pharmacy retailers. Technology companies are keeping pace with new software offerings and automated compliance packaging solutions to support those efforts to fight the $300 billion that nonadherence is estimated to cost the healthcare system annually. 

Efforts to boost adherence are “the focus of the entire pharmaceutical industry right now,” according to Craig Norman, senior vice president of pharmacy at San Antonio-based H-E-B. 

“Not only every retailer, but every brand and generic pharmaceutical company has that same goal,” Norman said.

Nearly every pharmacy chain — from CVS Pharmacy to such regional players as Plymouth, Minn.-based Thrifty White and Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Lewis Drug — has launched an adherence program in recent years. The programs offer a way to boost their patients’ health outcomes, reduce costly hospital readmissions, better their Medicare Star ratings and otherwise contribute to the broader health system. And they’ve enlisted their technology partners in an ongoing campaign to document and measure the effectiveness of those efforts.

“We’re trying to get where we can gather and present adherence data, and we’re talking (extensively) to our vendors about it,” Lewis Drug senior vice president of professional services Bill Ladwig said. 

Hand-in-hand with the industry’s adherence campaign is the growing movement among chain and independent pharmacies to offer prescriptions synchronized to a once-monthly pickup schedule for patients. 

“It’s clear that medication synchronization is the foundation to better patient adherence and pharmacy growth,” said Jason Turner, owner-operator of Moundsville Pharmacy in Moundsville, W.V. 

Turner expanded his store’s medication synchronization program in 2014 with support from QS/1’s NRx pharmacy management system and Workflow platform. By mid-2016, 850 patients were enrolled in the synchronization program, accounting for 55% of the pharmacy’s prescription volume.

In addition to offering patients convenience, med sync also opens the door to a closer long-term relationship between patient and pharmacist, as monthly pickups can be parlayed into regular one-on-one pharmacist-patient consultations about medication regimens, managing chronic conditions and other issues.

In two 2015 studies by the Alexandria, Va.-based National Community Pharmacists Asso-ciation, pharmacies that used the Time My Meds med sync application from Raleigh, N.C.-based Ateb, now a division of Omnicell, increased prescription sales, improved internal workflow and were better able to optimize their purchasing patterns. 

The merger between Mountain View, Calif.-based Omnicell and Ateb in late 2016 joined Omnicell’s SureMed adherence packaging and automation with Ateb’s patient engagement platform. 

“Omnicell’s platform … includes software solutions that improve workflow … with automation solutions that fill and verify medication adherence blister cards,” Omnicell vice president and general manager of medication adherence Troy Hilsenroth said. “Together, they create more time for pharmacists to shift their attention to patient engagement and counseling.” 

The role that robotic prescription packaging systems play in boosting adherence is key, according to Quebec, Canada-based Synergy Medical, a major supplier of blister pack and unit-dose technology. The company noted that blister packs can improve adherence by between 61% and 97%, and that its SynMed XF and new SynMed Ultra automation makes the process scalable in a way that manually preparing blister packs is not.  

“The benefit to the patient is clear. If they are taking their medication as prescribed, their underlying condition will be under better control,” SynMed senior director of North American sales Mark Rinker said. “The benefit to the payer is clear: a patient adhering with their medication regimen is substantially less costly to manage. The benefit to the pharmacy is clear. Patients consuming their medication as prescribed drive revenue through more fills and higher loyalty measures.”

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