Tops in satisfaction, GNP leverages scale
The way chief executive R. David Yost sees it, AmerisourceBergen Corp.’s Good Neighbor Pharmacy program is a bulwark for independent pharmacists against the pressures of a brutally competitive pharmacy market and an unforgiving economy.
Now numbering more than 3,700 independent pharmacies across the United States and Puerto Rico, GNP has become one of the largest drug store brands in the United States. By leveraging the best qualities of the owner-operated pharmacy — a strong community presence, personalized service and the flexibility and willingness to cater to the individual needs of patients — and blending them with the economies of scale, marketing expertise and buying power available to the big retail chains, AmerisourceBergen has built GNP into a powerful national brand.
Consumers appear to be taking notice. For the first time last year, J.D. Power & Associates ranked GNP No. 1 in customer satisfaction among all pharmacy retailers, based on a nationwide survey of more than 12,300 pharmacy customers. What’s more, GNP’s selection as best in service and personal care by consumers came in “the first year that they have been a ranked brand in the study,” said Jim Dougherty, J.D. Power’s director of healthcare practice.
In a recent report, ABC succinctly described its relationship with its huge network of GNP-affiliated independent drug stores. “We deliver prescription pharmaceuticals, private-label [over-the-counter] drugs and other health-related items daily, and we provide business coaching services, marketing support and access to managed care networks,” the company noted.
Key to its relationship with GNP stores, ABC said, is its full-service approach to supplying its customers. “We serve the vast majority of our customers on a prime vendor basis, which means that we provide all of the products that a pharmacy needs to serve its patients on any given day. Due to the high cost of pharmaceuticals, providers do not hold large amounts of inventory on hand; rather, they rely on … just-in-time delivery of the products they need,” ABC said.
ABC brings “tremendous scale” and “operating efficiency” to its independents via this model, the company reported. Through the GNP Premier program, launched three years ago, members also get expertise in managing their business and pricing their merchandise more profitably, and targeting their best customers. Participating independents also can benchmark their operation and business performance against a peer group of similar pharmacies through the GNP InSite market database.
GNP pharmacies also participate in their parent firm’s massive generic purchasing and pricing program, PRxO Generics, for “competitive pricing and new generic products from [more than] 100 manufacturers as soon as they are launched. We provide our customers the financing they need to buy the products. We then use our own purchasing power to secure the best possible value,” ABC reported.
The 3,700 GNP stores also benefit from centrally developed ABC programs “designed to drive continuous improvement, compliance and market penetration,” the company noted. Among those programs: the GNP Provider Network, which links the 3,700 GNP independent operators together with “small and regional chain drug stores and food-and-drug combination stores” served by ABC, according to the company. Together, that national group of independents, small chains and supermarket pharmacies comprise “the fourth-largest managed care provider network in the United States,” according to ABC.
Meanwhile, changes are afoot in ABC’s executive suite with the pending departure of its top executive. Yost announced in March he would retire July 1 after nearly 37 years, the last 14 of them as CEO. Succeeding Yost is COO Steven Collis, and moving up to president of AmerisourceBergen Drug Co. is David Neu, who last served as SVP operations.
GNP also is under relatively new management. Last August, ABC promoted Mike Cantrell to president of GNP, a new position, and group VP retail business development. Cantrell, who was VP professional services at Longs Drug Stores before joining ABC as VP central fill business development in 2009, reports to Jerry Cline, SVP retail sales and marketing. One primary role for GNP, Cantrell said, will be “helping our pharmacists develop their role in healthcare reform, with the understanding that they are a significant component of the solution.”
Health Mart tops for service, patient care
In the May issue of Consumer Reports, a report found that such independents as McKesson’s Health Mart franchise group are delivering the goods.
McKesson helped capitalize on what has always been an exemplary Health Mart patient experience at the top of last year with a multi- million-dollar ad campaign that included an ad during the New Orleans Saints/Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl. That 2010 campaign featured real Health Mart pharmacists with stories on how they have impacted their local communities by taking the time to care and provide special services.
Along with Bayer Diabetes Care and Novo Nordisk, Health Mart in 2010 also kicked off the Health Mart Healthy Living Tour, a national diabetes awareness and health screening tour focused on the role of pharmacists partnering in diabetes care. “The program featured a mobile screening unit that traveled across the country to raise diabetes awareness through free health screenings and education,” explained Tim Canning, Health Mart president. “The tour … emphasized the key role of pharmacists in diabetes care, encouraging consumers to initiate healthy conversations with their community pharmacists,” he said. “As a result of focusing on greater-risk communities across many different states, 49.7% of the tour patients screened were identified as at risk for diabetes.”
While Consumer Reports features Health Mart as a good example of the kind of experience patients are finding at independents, the network also has been recognized for its outstanding service elsewhere. J.D. Power in February named Health Mart as 1-of-the-40 companies that was a J.D. Power 2011 Customer Service Champion. “When this was announced, Leslie Sauzek, owner of Moody Health Mart Pharmacy in Sparta, Ill., commented on how the fact that Health Mart provides locally owned pharmacies with a national identity helped make it possible for the network to be recognized by consumers on a national level,” Canning noted.
Health Mart epitomizes the best of both ends of the pharmacy service spectrum: the small-town service of a pharmacist active within their community and the branding and efficiency driven by such technology as EnterpriseRx that typically is associated with much larger pharmacy chain competitors. “Our EnterpriseRx pharmacy management system helps pharmacy staff manage their workload more efficiently with Promise Time Workflow, which makes sure the right person is doing the right task at the right time,” Canning said. “This helps ensure that the pharmacy is running as efficiently as possible with the technicians focused on labeling, counting and filling, while the pharmacist focuses on prescription validation, as well as patient and physician consultations.”
“The workflow [associated with EnterpriseRx] has allowed us to be more organized, which has drastically increased our ability to have more patient care,” reported Katie Butt Beckart, president of Butt Drugs Health Mart Pharmacy, in a recent McKesson video.
Pharmacy automation tools, such as Parata Systems, also help spring the Health Mart pharmacy operator from behind the bench to provide more healthcare services, such as diabetes counseling and medication therapy management. In Wisconsin, for example, McKesson’s Health Mart locations are piloting an MTM program that electronically connects pharmacists with the physician, the payer and the patient to help drive consistent outcomes. Those kinds of intervention services can realize savings between $500 and $1,500 for participating payers, and as much as $450 in savings for the patient, McKesson has reported.
Ahold’s rewards, programs fuel sales
Pharmacy retailers always are looking for ways to leverage the resources they have in order to attract customers, whether they’re drug stores, supermarkets or mass merchandisers. One supermarket operator is using its gas stations to bring customers to the counter.
Royal Ahold’s Giant-Carlisle, Giant-Landover and Stop & Shop customers who pay for their prescriptions out of pocket from most of the chain’s pharmacies can earn reward points that they can put toward car fuel purchases. Under Giant-Landover’s Gas Rewards program, for example, customers earn a point for every dollar they spend and get 10 cents off of every gallon of gas bought at Giant and participating Shell gas stations.
In addition to pharmacy programs, Ahold banners offer a number of health-and-wellness programs, using the innate ability of all supermarkets to promote healthy eating. In September, Giant-Carlisle and Martin’s Food Markets launched Passport to Nutrition, a Web-based program designed to educate children, their parents and teachers on nutrition and healthy lifestyles, including lessons that cover the food pyramid and physical activity, food labels and portion control, and how to eat a balanced diet.
“Childhood obesity has become a growing health issue, and it’s important for both kids and their parents to understand what they can do to eat healthy and maintain an active lifestyle,” Giant-Carlisle health-and-wellness manager Shirley Axe said.
Meanwhile, Giant-Landover partnered with the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington to combat childhood obesity by encouraging healthy lifestyles, with Giant supporting the YMCA’s “Physical, Healthy & Driven” program, designed to help children ages 6 to 13 years integrate physical fitness and healthy eating into their daily routines. The YMCA will take its PHD on the Move mobile playground to several Giant-Landover locations throughout 2011, while the two are creating a Healthy Snack campaign to educate families about the pitfalls of snacking.