PHARMACY

RCEC to bring pharmacists, NPs together

BY Alaric DeArment


ORLANDO, Fla. — Studies have indicated that the best people to get patients to adhere to their medication therapies are store pharmacists, while the second-best people are nurses. Thus, it’s only natural that getting nurses and pharmacists to collaborate will further improve adherence. The collaborative care track that The Drug Store News Group will introduce at the Retail Clinician Education Congress in August is a step in that direction.


Collaborative Care Day, which will take place on Aug. 2 at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Fla., will provide up to six dually accredited continuing education credits for pharmacists and nurse practitioners. The one-day track is a new addition to the annual RCEC, which will run Aug. 1 to 3 in line with National Convenient Care Clinic Week. The collaborative care track will include sessions with nurse practitioners and pharmacists on working together to improve health outcomes, common respiratory ailments, pediatric pharmacology, drug interactions — especially involving over-the-counter medications — hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.


“We know that pharmacists are essential providers in helping patients manage their drug regimens and drug-adherence protocols,” Drug Store News publisher Wayne Bennett said. “We also know that retail nurse practitioners provide the community with an important access point for not only treating minor illness and injuries, but also vaccinations and other health-condition monitoring services like high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes screenings and assessments.”


Collaborative Care Association executive director Tine Hansen-Turton also is enthusiastic about the track. “We know the best health care in this country is provided by a team,” she said. “We are excited to introduce the collaborative care track at the Retail Clinician Education Congress, which is a hallmark of how health care will be provided in the future.”


Also new to RCEC 2011 is a special executive track featuring special sessions aimed at healthcare system executives and hospital administrators. The executive track sessions take place Aug. 1. The exhibit hall will be open all three days. For more details, drugstorenews.com/rcec-sponsorship-information.


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Reader confronts need for clinics

BY Rob Eder


In response to the news last month that Rite Aid named Tony Montini EVP merchandising, DSN shared this exchange with an online reader:


Dear DSN;


I am a Rite Aid pharmacist in the small desert town of Needles, Calif. Needles is a poor town with a lot of our business being Medi-Cal — state Medicaid. … This is the rub: There are no Medi-Cal providers in the city! Most people have to go to the emergency room, or those with Medicare D plans [travel] 20 miles across the Colorado River to Arizona. …


Does Rite Aid have any stores with medical clinics in them? I know if there was a clinic in our store, or even in our business complex, our volume would soar. … Really, it would open up a new world for our store if the people had access to a Medi-Cal provider — not to mention the traffic from travelers on Interstate 40. Could you, DSN, relay this message to Mr. Montini?


Sincerely,

William M. Garner, Pharmacist, Rite Aid



Dear William,


Thanks for your feedback. We will pass on your suggestion. In spirit, we agree with your comments — we believe America needs more retail clinics in general, and I am certain the community in which you live and work is no exception. 


That said, Rite Aid does operate clinics in California, including seven Lindora Clinics in southern California and three Sutter Express Clinics in the Sacramento area. 


Best wishes,

Rob Eder, Editor-in-chief, DSN


In fairness, DSN did forward Garner’s comments to Mr. Montini, who previously had already seen them on DrugStoreNews.com and sent them along to his colleagues in pharmacy. 


There are a number of things about this exchange that pleased me. First, it means that our integrated print-digital platform is serving users in real time.


But it also serves as an indication of the value the bench-level pharmacist sees in the in-store clinic model. DSN believes that together, these two important healthcare professionals — the pharmacist and the nurse practitioner/physician assistant — operating in a community pharmacy setting are critical components of real health reform.


It is a key reason we have chosen to add a special collaborative care track to our annual Retail Clinician Education Congress this August. If you operate clinics in any of your stores, I strongly encourage you to send some of your key pharmacists and/or pharmacy managers to the conference this year to learn more about how to bring these two important healthcare providers closer together to drive better patient outcomes. Contact me at reder@lf.com to learn more.

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RAD employs Rx initiatives, new format

BY Michael Johnsen

Rite Aid recently has put into play a number of forward-looking initiatives to help improve operations, particularly across pharmacy. The Pennsylvania-based retailer last month announced its test market of six new Wellness store prototypes, and after successfully testing a 15-minute prescription guarantee in three states, Rite Aid expanded that guarantee to all states except New York. 


As part of the company’s segmentation strategy, Rite Aid last month opened six pilot Wellness stores that have been refitted with new decor. “There are significant changes to our merchandising, including the addition of an expanded selection of organic foods, all-
natural personal care products and homeopathic medicines,” John Standley, Rite Aid president and CEO, told analysts last month. “These stores have additional resources to help customers obtain their wellness objectives, including expanded clinical pharmacy services [and] wellness ambassadors. The expanded clinical services include pharmacists who are diabetes care specialists, certified immunizers and medication therapy management experts.”


Meanwhile, wellness ambassadors will walk 
the aisles armed with information regarding over-the-counter medications and supplements. “Many of the wellness ambassadors are pharmacy technicians who have received additional training,” Robert Thompson, EVP pharmacy, told Drug Store News. “Their skill set is already pretty substantial, and they can be part of the bridge between the front-end and the pharmacy. They can help customers on the floor, and if they have a question that needs to be answered, [those pharmacy technicians] can find the right resource and encourage additional conversations with the pharmacist.”


All told, Rite Aid will be remodeling as many as 500 stores in the coming fiscal year, including both Wellness and value formats that will better target each pharmacy to the community it serves.


Rite Aid’s 15-minute prescription guarantee should serve as a key trial driver. Last month, a Consumer Reports survey revealed that 21% of pharmacy customers were dissatisfied by a perceived slow speed of service, and 15% complained their prescriptions weren’t ready when promised. The ability to stand out as a pharmacy that consistently dispenses prescriptions within 15 minutes could be a game changer, especially as speed of service becomes more paramount. The Consumer Reports survey found that 49% of respondents cited speed of service as an important consideration in choosing a drug store, compared with 24% in their 2002 survey.


“The vast majority of prescriptions at Rite Aid are filled within 15 minutes anyway,” Thompson said. “Our NexGen dispensing system is the backbone to filling prescriptions and is built around a rigorous quality assurance process. There are many checks and balances built into the system to ensure that quality and safety is foremost in dispensing the prescription.” Thompson noted that the guarantee does not include counseling, compounding or where information is needed from the prescription provider or insurer. “[The 15-minute guarantee] is about recognizing and respecting consumers’ desire for prompt service,” Thompson added.


Rite Aid’s segmentation initiatives, including its new Wellness store pilots, and the 15-minute guarantee both serve to draw customers into the store, but Rite Aid’s successful loyalty program is a significant factor in keeping them coming back. “Wellness+ members accounted for 67% of front-end sales and 58% of our script count during the quarter,” Standley said. Standley reported 36 million Wellness+ members as of mid-March, up from 29 million reported in mid-December.

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