PHARMACY

Technology, personnel growth eyed

BY Antoinette Alexander

With its treasure-hunt style shopping and broad array of brand and private-label products at attractive prices, Costco has successfully carved out a unique business model that resonates with its 76 million cardholders. As the company continues to expand its merchandise offerings on the front end, its pharmacy operations remain a critical piece of the business.

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“I’m always on the lookout for models in which you can make the pharmacist more forward-facing. I feel like the future of the pharmacy will be more patient centered,” Michael Mastromonica, Costco’s assistant VP pharmacy services, told Drug Store News.

As healthcare reform gives rise to new models of care and new quality standards, Costco is stepping up to meet patient needs.

As part of the effort, Costco is preparing to implement in the pharmacy in the coming months a new technology tool for outcomes management, with a specific focus on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Star Ratings. The software will allow the retailer to, for example, identify those pharmacy patients who are at risk and nonadherent.

In addition, Costco is looking to hire a clinical pharmacist, who will be solely focused on outcomes opportunities and Star ratings.

Meanwhile, Costco’s travel medicine pilot continues to take flight. The program is currently in operation in about 18 beta sites along the West Coast, and will further expand to additional locations in 2015 and 2016.

Costco contracts with a physician group to handle the analytics and make the recommendations. Costco pharmacists administer the vaccines for its travel vaccination program.

The company also is looking to broaden its long-standing health screening initiative, which has included osteoporosis, cardiovascular and lung health screenings, to add A1C testing to the mix for those with diabetes.

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PHARMACY

Personalizing pharmacy experience

BY Jim Frederick

With 544 pharmacies in 44 states — as well as more than 230 stores in Canada, China, India, Japan and the United Arab Emirates — Medicine Shoppe International has carved a niche in community pharmacy as an apothecary-style source for both personalized prescription counseling and specialized disease management expertise.

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Last fall, Cardinal cast a wider net to prospective franchise owners by launching a co-branding option that allows independent pharmacies joining the network to maintain their own store identity and still gain the benefits of franchise membership. Among those benefits is enrollment in MSI’s Pharmacy Services Administration Organization, along with related managed care services to help them gain access to commercial, Medicare and longterm care; immunization; and rural payer networks, according to MSI VP John Fiacco. They also qualify for other Cardinal and Medicine Shoppe resources, including the EQuIPP and LearnSomething software programs to track and measure performance.

The co-branding option “brings the best of both worlds to independent pharmacy,” Fiacco said. “Now, community pharmacies can continue to maintain the local store names their patients have come to know and trust, while also tapping into the equity and awareness of a national brand.”

Among the basic services offered by Medicine Shoppe and Medicap pharmacy owners are health screenings without an appointment, comprehensive medication reviews and “robust, two-way communication” with patients, Cardinal reported, as well as home delivery of prescriptions.

Some Medicine Shoppe pharmacies go further, setting themselves up as Specialized Care Centers, which “concentrate their care on a particular health focus — such as diabetes, heart health, immunizations, home health care or long-term care — to help patients manage their unique healthcare needs,” according to Medicine Shoppe.

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Health and beauty share spotlight

BY Richard Monks

The Jean Coutu Group provides shoppers in three Canadian provinces with what has become a hallmark of 21st century drug store retailing.

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Combining top-notch health care with one of the industry’s most comprehensive and visually appealing beauty care offerings, the 413-store chain gives shoppers across Quebec and parts of New Foundland and Ontario aspects of both mass retailing and specialty stores.

A spokeswoman explained that the company’s extensive selection of mass market and prestige brands — many of them unique to Jean Coutu stores — are merchandised in upscale departments staffed by trained cosmeticians, helping the chain attract shoppers who would otherwise shop for these products only in upscale outlets.

At the same time, an intense focus on health and wellness make the company’s stores the go-to retailer for prescription drugs and related products.

As in the United States, the evolution of Canada’s government-funded health system in recent years has seen pharmacists take on a greater role in patient care.

Jean Coutu has been at the forefront of this shift. The Pro Doc generic drug manufacturing unit it has operated since 2007, for instance, has allowed the company to be at the heart of the national movement toward greater use of generic drugs.

Jean Coutu’s commitment to providing patients with a comprehensive healthcare offering has also helped it move into the orthotic and prosthetic devices arena through a partnership with Le Groupe Medicus Inc.

Executives said these expanded healthcare services help Jean Coutu’s pharmacies offer a wider range of services, complementing the wide array of more programs and services that they have traditionally offered.

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