HEALTH

Walgreens to test diabetes care model

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. Ramping up its increasingly aggressive commitment to being a broad-based health solutions company, Walgreens is gearing up to test a new, pharmacy-centered disease management program for patients with diabetes.

Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson announced the plan during a conference call Monday with investment analysts as the company unveiled its third-quarter earnings results [see related story]. The new patient-care initiative comes as Walgreens continues its retail realignment and expands its integrated patient-care capabilities to health plan payers, employers and patients themselves.

“We’re pioneering new approaches to achieve better health care outcomes,” Wasson told analysts. “In coming quarters, we’ll pilot a chronic care management service in four markets, focused initially on Type 2 diabetes. The service will integrate capabilities across all of our platforms, including pharmacies, retail clinics, call centers and mail service, to enable patients to better control their conditions.”

In a related development, Walgreens stores in south Florida have teamed up with the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, based at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, to raise funds for a diabetes cure, and awareness about the disease. The joint effort involves 265 of the chain’s stores.

The chain “will continue to invest in these areas” going forward, Wasson said.

Walgreens is in the midst of a major transformation of its business. Central to its reinvention strategy, first announced last fall, are efforts to position itself to America’s employer-based health plan sponsors, pharmacy benefit managers, physicians and other health stakeholders as a highly accessible, cost-effective solution to a health care system whose costs are spiraling out of control.

In line with that effort, Wasson also revealed Monday that more than 16,000 Walgreens pharmacists “will be licensed by this fall to provide flu vaccinations and immunizations.“We also have nurse practitioners in about 350 in-store clinics to handle routine family illnesses at a much lower cost than an emergency room visit,” Wasson added. “These services sit very well with the major themes of health care reform: access, affordability, and disease prevention and wellness.”

What’s more, asserted Walgreens’ top manager, those services are increasingly vital to a health care system that is broken and in fundamental need of reform. “If left unchecked, some estimate health care costs will grow from about $2.5 trillion today to $4 trillion within a decade,” Wasson warned. “Walgreens and the retail pharmacy industry have a role in generating savings in health care.

“Our pharmacists and clinicians at retail and employer clinics are accessible, affordable providers of quality care, and it makes good economic sense to include them as part of the solution,” he added.

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Health Enterprises awarded APMA Seal of Acceptance for two products

BY Michael Johnsen

NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. Health Enterprises has been awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance for its Therapeutic Foot Massager and Tru-Ice Reusable Ice Therapy, the company announced Wednesday.

The APMA Seal of Acceptance Program was created to inform podiatric physicians and consumers about products whose quality, safety and effectiveness promote good foot health. In order to qualify for the Seal, products must pass a scientific evaluation by a panel of APMA members and testing at a recognized laboratory.

The Therapeutic Foot Massager helps relieve pain, reduce stress and relax tired feet with three easy-to-use massage options (massage with heat, massage with cold or basic massage). Tru-Ice provides cold therapy to help reduce swelling and relieve pain with an ergonomic, reusable design and patented liner system.

“Both the Therapeutic Foot Massager and Tru-Ice products have been medically proven to bring relief to individuals suffering from foot pain, using the latest technology in over-the-counter foot massage and cold therapy treatments,” stated Ronald Jensen, APMA president.

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Select Rite Aid stores to host Diabetes Solutions Days

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. Select Rite Aid stores nationwide will host Diabetes Solutions Days on June 23 and 25, the chain announced Thursday. Consumers attending the events will be provided with diabetes-related health screenings and self-management solutions. The events include blood pressure screenings, personal pharmacist consultations and glucose meter selection and training. There also will be product coupons and samples of the latest products in at-home diabetes care, and visitors can enter a raffle at each location for a $50 Rite Aid gift card.

The free events and store locations are listed online based by zip code at www.riteaid.com; events run from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., do not require an appointment and are part of Rite Aid’s year-round focus helping diabetes patients take the best care of themselves, the chain stated.

“The key to effective diabetes management is to understand the condition’s symptoms and treatments,” stated Robert Thompson, Rite Aid SVP pharmacy. “On Diabetes Solutions Day, patients can consult with trained Rite Aid pharmacists on their diabetes symptoms and treatment regimens, as well as sample the latest techniques in at-home monitoring.”

A free 16-page Diabetes Guide, developed with the American Diabetes Association, will be available in all Rite Aid stores, and identifies the risk factors for pre-diabetes and diabetes. It includes information on weight management and diabetes-friendly recipes. The guide also provides advice and safe treatment options on such health conditions as gum disease, dry eyes and wound and foot care, all of which can be especially harmful to people with diabetes if left untreated.

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