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RBC 2014 urges pharmacists to lead change

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON — Nearly 8,000 attendees will converge in Washington, D.C., in July for Cardinal Health’s annual Retail Business Conference, which provides independent pharmacists and pharmacy franchise owners an opportunity to network with and learn from peers, as well as gain new insights into improving business effectiveness and efficiency.

RBC will take place July 23 to 26 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

In light of the changing healthcare landscape and the increased role that pharmacists are playing in the U.S. healthcare system, this year’s event is aptly themed “Leading Change.”

“RBC is the perfect opportunity for independent pharmacy owners to network with their peers and learn new ways they can lead change in health care — the kind of change that will ultimately result in healthier patients, healthier communities, stronger pharmacy businesses and a more productive, cost-effective healthcare system,” said Steve Lawrence, SVP independent sales for Cardinal Health.

Highlights of this year’s RBC include:
• The RBC Opening Session: This year’s RBC Opening Session will feature Mary Matalin and James Carville, who will engage in a candid discussion about today's hot-button political and healthcare issues from both sides of the political aisle. Matalin is one of the most celebrated and popular conservative voices in America. As an author, television and radio host, and widely sought-after political contributor, pundit and public speaker, she is known for her straightforward manner and insightful political repartee. Among her many roles and accomplishments, she has served under former President Ronald Reagan, made her mark as former President George H.W. Bush's campaign director and most recently was assistant to former President George W. Bush. Her husband, James "The Ragin' Cajun" Carville, is one of America's best-known political consultants. His list of electoral successes shows a knack for steering overlooked campaigns to unexpected landslide victories, and for re-making political underdogs into upset winners. Carville also is a best-selling author, actor, producer, talk show host, speaker and restaurateur;


• Healthcare Roundtable Discussion: As the Affordable Care Act, changing demographics and other drivers continue to transform health care, RBC’s Healthcare Roundtable Discussion will provide attendees with the chance to hear first-hand insights from pharmacy industry leaders about how some of the nation’s most pressing healthcare issues are impacting community pharmacy. This discussion will feature Doug Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association; Theresa Tolle, speaker-elect of the American Pharmacists Association House of Delegates; and Connie Woodburn, SVP government relations for Cardinal Health. These community pharmacy advocates will discuss industry hot topics ranging from narrow insurance networks to the critical importance of pharmacists receiving provider status so they can be reimbursed for delivering healthcare services to patients;
 

• Innovation Hub: Part of the Cardinal Health showcase on the RBC tradeshow floor, the Innovation Hub will feature touchscreen kiosks and iPads where attendees can learn more about and interact with wearable health technology, health gaming, apps and technology tools that can improve pharmacy practice. It also will serve as a one-stop location where attendees can network with IT exhibitors and pharmacy-focused technology products. Attendees will be able to find facts, statistics, educational information and practical examples of how specific healthcare technology innovations are shaping the ways pharmacists and other healthcare providers interact with and serve patients; and


• Best Practice Competition: During this year’s RBC, Cardinal Health will name three of the nation’s most innovative community pharmacies as winners of its Independent Pharmacy Best Practices Competition. The Best Practice Competition winners were selected for implementing exceptionally creative methods that demonstrate how independent pharmacies can adapt to, and improve patient care in, today’s fast-changing healthcare environment. The annual Best Practice Competition winners are considered industry trendsetters whose successful, real-world models are often adopted by other community pharmacies across the country. This year’s winners excelled in three categories crucial to the success of hometown pharmacies: wellness, retail and business practices. The 2014 Best Practice winners will each direct a $3,500 donation — made by Cardinal Health — to the pharmacy school or pharmacy association of their choice.

In addition to the power-packed lineup of events, the tradeshow will feature a 174,000-sq.-ft. trade exhibit floor highlighting buying opportunities with more than 340 exhibitors. Pharmacists also can access continuing education opportunities, with 60 courses on topics that can help them improve both their clinical and business operations.
 

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General Mills’ new product lineup reflects ‘deep understanding’ of customers

BY Ryan Chavis

MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills on Monday announced a number of new products set to debut this summer, all of which reflect consumer-driven food trends. With offerings that range from Cheerios Protein cereal to Suddenly Salad made with whole grains, the company's new products were conceived with a keen eye on customer needs.

“Everything we do starts with the consumer in mind, and in Fiscal 2015 we’re applying this consumer first mindset across our portfolio,” said Ken Powell, General Mills Chairman and CEO. “Through a deep understanding of our consumers — what foods they like, where they shop and how they like to cook — we are rapidly addressing their needs with products that offer relevant health news, increased convenience, superior taste and product quality.”

The themes displayed in the new product lineup include:

Protein
More than 50% of consumers are looking to pack more protein into their diets, the company said, making protein-rich foods a hot item in U.S. supermarkets. General Mills hopes to meet this demand with Cheerios Protein, Cascadian Farm Protein Granola and new flavors of Yoplait Greek Yogurt.

Bold flavor
The company noted that consumers are embracing products with globally inspired flavors. General Mills is offering Old El Paso Nacho Cheese Taco Shells, Progresso Chili and Chex Mix Xtreme — which boasts flavors like Habanero Lime and Sweet & Spicy Sriracha.

Gluten-free
The company estimates that 30% of consumers are trying to cut back on gluten consumption; it will add to its existing gluten-free portfolio with the addition of Chex Gluten Free Oatmeal, Betty Crocker Gluten Free Pizza Crust, Larabar Renola and Food Should Taste Good Brown Rice Crackers.

Whole grains
Eighty-one percent of consumers are trying to incorporate more whole grains into their diets, the company said. It plans to add Suddenly Grain Salad, Green Giant Steamers and Nature Valley Fruteria to help satisfy this segment.

Sweet treats
For consumers looking to sweeten up their days, the company is offering the following decadent additions: Fiber One Streusel, Betty Crocker Hershey’s Premium Dessert Mixes, Pillsbury Melts and Häagen-Dazs Triple Sensations.

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Cardinal’s Adherence Suite, MTM solution equip pharmacists to help patients

BY Michael Johnsen

DUBLIN, Ohio — The theme for this year’s Cardinal Health RBC 2014 is “Leading Change.” For community pharmacists, that means playing a more active role in patient care. And Cardinal Health has a suite of services to help community pharmacists take the next step in making a difference in their patients’ lives — the Cardinal Health Adherence Suite.

Improving patient medication adherence does a lot more than drive additional prescriptions to the bottom line. Improving adherence helps take a bite out of the $290 billion price tag that nonadherence costs the U.S. health system. What’s more, moving the metric on adherence helps improve patient outcomes, a factor that can help open the door into some of the narrow networks that are becoming more commonplace.

“Health plans are increasingly focused on how pharmacies perform on the Star ratings' pharmacy-related metrics,” wrote Elie Bahou, VP managed care and business development, pharmaceutical distribution at Cardinal Health, in a recent Cardinal corporate blog. “One key area of focus is medication adherence, particularly in the categories of diabetes, statins for cholesterol and anti-hypertensive medications to treat high blood pressure. In addition, plans are looking at the extent to which pharmacies are identifying gaps in care — specific to patients with diabetes being on an ACE/ARB and avoiding high-risk medications in the elderly — which can be improved with proper intervention.”

Cardinal Health’s Adherence Suite includes offerings like the EQuIPP dashboard, a performance-benchmarking system that helps the community pharmacist track and measure the pharmacy’s performance on Star ratings so they can help qualify for entry into these narrow pharmacy networks.

The suite also features a Compliance Management Service, a partnership between Cardinal Health and LearnSomething that serves as a one-stop shop for accredited courses and training accepted by all third-party payers, and that is necessary for compliance. This solution also offers CMS-mandated OIG/GSA check verifications.

Dispill, a low-cost, multi-dose packaging solution that lets pharmacies deliver prescribed medication to consumers in an all-inclusive blister pack, is also a key solution as part of the suite. Cardinal Health is the exclusive distributor in the United States.

In addition, Cardinal Health recently launched its medication therapy management solution to make it easier and more time-efficient for retail pharmacies to help patients better understand and adhere to their medications.

“No one is better positioned than a community pharmacist to help patients improve medication adherence, reduce medication errors and improve health outcomes related to medication use,” said Brad Tice, product leader of Cardinal Health’s new Medication Therapy Management Solution. “Our goal is to make it as easy and time-efficient as possible for pharmacies to deliver the MTM services that address these important patient needs.”

“This solution is a win for patients, for pharmacists, for payers and for the broader healthcare system. It helps improve patient outcomes and reduces unnecessary healthcare costs, saves retail pharmacists’ valuable time and strengthens the very important relationship between retail pharmacies and their patients,” Tice said.

Tice said that one issue that prevents pharmacists from delivering MTM services to patients is that there are currently few opportunities for them to be reimbursed for doing so. While Medicare Part D currently reimburses pharmacists for delivering MTM services, only a very small percentage of enrollees are eligible.

“Right now, retail pharmacies are caught in a bit of a Catch-22. They can only be reimbursed for delivering MTM services to a very small percentage of the population, and it can be a challenge to find enough eligible patients to make it truly viable,” Tice said. “On the other hand, if they want to be included in payers’ quality performance networks, retail pharmacies need to demonstrate their ability to positively impact patient care and improve Star ratings. One of the best ways to do that is to deliver MTM services to as many eligible patients as possible.”

The goal of the company’s new MTM program is to address these challenges by positioning Cardinal Health to work seamlessly with each participating pharmacy’s patients to help ensure they are on the right medications, using them the right way and achieving the desired results. Tice said that the company’s approach is working. The more than 180 retail pharmacies that have participated in the company’s pilot MTM program have delivered nearly four times as many comprehensive medication reviews as the industry average.

Through the company’s new Medication Therapy Management Solution:

  • Licensed pharmacists from Cardinal Health, who are certified in medication therapy management, will work directly with a retail pharmacy’s eligible patients to perform a comprehensive medication review;
  • Acting as an extension of the retail pharmacy’s team, Cardinal Health licensed pharmacists share the results of that medication review with the patient’s pharmacy in the form of a medication action plan, which enables the pharmacy to work with the patient and the patient’s other healthcare providers to implement the recommended changes;
  • The patient and the retail pharmacy receive a patient-specific medication action plan that can be implemented locally. It highlights recommended changes in therapy, adherence issues that need to be addressed through clinical intervention, suggestions for medications the patient should consider taking or stop taking, and opportunities for generic substitutions; and
  • The medication review also identifies additional opportunities for retail pharmacies to meet the individualized healthcare needs of each patient — like recommended immunizations, services to improve cardiovascular health, or helping patients better manage diabetes.

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