Special services set chain apart
Fruth Pharmacy focused on improvements to its core pharmacy business in 2014.
While the company focuses on “good, old-fashioned service,” its pharmacy services are state-of-the-art.
“We’ve also been focusing on clinical aspects of the pharmacy and driving completion of MTMs and TIPS (Targeted Intervention Programs),” said Fruth president and chairman Lynne Fruth. “Our pharmacy system, PDX-EPS, has allowed us to integrate clinical and adherence programs, as well as CoverMyMeds to help with prior authorizations.”
The chain has achieved incremental prescription growth as a result of a major promotional push to enroll patients in its mobile app refill and pick-up reminders. More than 9,000 patients have enrolled in Fruth’s text-reminder service.
The company also has increased its television, radio and print advertising in 2014 and continues to expand its presence on social media with special offers, contests and human interest stories.
Last year, to help its home state fight the growing incidence of meth labs, the chain was the first in West Virginia to stop selling non-tamper resistant OTC pseudoephedrine products.
Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS soon followed Fruth’s lead to great success. “Today, 62% of the single ingredient PSE sold in West Virginia is tamper resistant, and West Virginia meth labs were down by 40%,” Fruth said. “Fruth Pharmacy, a small regional chain, led the way.”
The chain continues its efforts to reach its community through public health programs and immunizations. Last year, the company doubled its flu immunizations over 2013.
The company relocated and completely redesigned two stores last year and added diabetic sections to all stores to better merchandise a full array of offerings for patients with diabetes.
Several locations also were redesigned to better accommodate onsite clinic and Express Care programs the chain offers in partnership with local hospitals and mid-level providers.
Enhancing medication adherence
Established in 1942, Lewis Drug made its mark as the first self-service drug store in South Dakota. Today, Lewis continues to go strong with an even greater emphasis on improving patient health outcomes.
“Our focus is really going to be on the patient and the customer, and their healthcare needs,” said Scott Cross, EVP at Lewis Drug.
In pharmacy, Lewis Drug has several initiatives in place aimed at improving medication adherence, including its Smart Sync program, which enables enrolled patients to have their prescriptions filled on the same day each month.
Each month, a Lewis pharmacist reviews patients’ prescriptions, monitors changes after any doctor or hospital visits, and checks for possible drug interactions.
The program is now in its third year but, according to Cross, the company is now actively marketing it through television spots and pharmacy brochures. In addition, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are calling their patients to inform them of the program and encouraging them to enroll.
Cross said the company also is exploring unit-dose packaging for its retail prescriptions as a way to help improve adherence. “We are testing several different types to find out which one works the best,” Cross said.
Lewis Drug has offered unit-dosing for its mental health and long-term care patients for several years.
Meanwhile, the company is working to become even more of a wellness destination at the front end by providing customers with greater healthy alternatives in its food and beverage departments, including gluten-free and organic products and nutritional supplements.
Cross said Lewis is exploring different merchandising display options and may even create an entire wellness department within the store with hopes to implement by the third quarter.
Bridging pharmacy, nutrition
With a vast network of supermarkets and a variety of stand-alone drug store formats, Metro Inc. has carved out a strong position in Ontario and Quebec by stressing the crucial link between pharmacies, nutrition and overall wellness.
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All of its pharmacists in Ontario, for example, have completed an accredited continuing education course on nutrition.
“The nutrition initiatives that our pharmacists have been able to implement into their pharmacy’s service offering enable them to enhance the patient care provided,” she said. “These programs empower patients to better manage their own health as it relates to their medications and health conditions.”
In some instances, the spokeswoman noted, Metro pharmacies have offered specialized clinics catering to specific patient populations in collaboration with other health professionals. One of the more visible of these efforts has been pharmacists’ collaboration with a registered dietitian on diabetes screening clinics, helping to raise awareness of the disease and root out undiagnosed cases.
Metro’s 71 Ontario-based pharmacies, operating under the Pharmacy and Drug Basics banners, also have been at the heart of a government-funded smoking cessation program for patients covered by the province’s drug benefit system.
“The program contains all of the elements required by the Ontario Ministry of Health, but is enhanced with the addition of a lung function assessment to screen enrolled customers for COPD and to determine their lung age,” the spokeswoman said. “This assessment is valuable to ensure those with possible COPD receive the appropriate follow-up, along with providing measurable variables that can help educate and motivate individuals toward a smoke-free lifestyle.”
Many of these efforts also have extended to the company’s pharmacy network in Quebec, where it is the franchisor and distributor for 194 franchised Brunet Plus, Brunet, Brunet Clinique, Brunet Target, and Clini Plus drug stores.