PHARMACY

Walgreens wellness head urges cooperation among health care providers

BY Antoinette Alexander

CONSHOCKEN, Pa. Patients and employers are facing exorbitant health care costs and an increased lack of access as the physician shortage continues; however, Walgreens’ Take Care Health Systems and other health care providers, in conjunction with state and federal government, can drive health care reform. That was the message of an Op Ed article written by Take Care Health Systems’ chairman Hal Rosenbluth that recently ran as a full-page ad in the Washington Post.

“We believe strongly that working together with community physicians and providers of all types, and integrating care through electronic means and a new ecosystem of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, health coaches and wellness outreach programs can provide a more comprehensive, high-quality, affordable healthcare system,” stated Rosenbluth, who also holds the title of SVP, Walgreens  and president, Walgreens Health and Wellness division.

In Take Care Health Systems’ call to action, Rosenbluth reiterated the cost benefits that convenient care clinics provide patients who are seeking treatment for acute ailments, screenings and wellness services. In fact, in-store retail clinics provide services that typically cost two-thirds less than an ER visit for the same condition. Research has also found that roughly 30% of Take Care Clinic patients don’t have a primary care physician and about 20% are cash payers — indicating they are either underinsured or uninsured.

Rosenbluth also stressed the important role that worksite clinics can play as employers increasingly look for ways to curb rising health care costs.

These worksite clinics — that can deliver, on average, $2 to $4 in savings for every dollar invested by an employer — offer a range of services from full primary care to occupational health, pharmacy, fitness centers and wellness programs. 

“We are addressing the issue of access to care by creating a healthcare-delivery vehicle comprised of 66,000 healthcare professionals across more than 7,000 points of care in drug stores, retail clinics and worksite health and wellness centers,” stated Rosenbluth. “Further, we are advancing the role of nurse practitioners and pharmacists as front-line caregivers.”

While there obviously remains much work to be done, as Rosenbluth clearly addressed in the ad, there’s no doubt that the message is resonating with many patients. To date, more than 1 million patients have visited a Take Care Clinic and have given the clinic operator an average patient-satisfaction rating of 92%.

 “We are only one part of a large, complex system, but we are hard at work to fill our part of the prescription,? stated Rosenbluth. ?We invite all those in the healthcare industry, in the public sector and in corporate America to join us.”

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AstraZeneca announces plans to lay off 6,000 employees by 2013

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Drug maker AstraZeneca plans to lay off 6,000 employees by 2013, the Anglo-Swedish company announced Thursday.

The layoffs add to the 9,000 jobs AstraZeneca said it would cut in 2007. The company has 65,000 employees.

Amid the worldwide economic downturn, several drug makers have announced layoffs. Pfizer announced this week that it would lay off more than 8,000 workers as part of its acquisition of Wyeth.

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Bartell Drugs to offer free health screenings at 11 of its stores in Feb.

BY Alaric DeArment

SEATTLE Bartell Drugs, which operates stores in the Seattle area, said it would offer free health screenings at 11 of its stores next month. The stores will offer tests for blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure in partnership with One Touch, Nature Made and CIA Health Screenings. Customers will receive results immediately.

“We are extremely pleased to offer these screenings, because the results can provide our customers with important front-line indicators in the fight against diabetes, heart disease and stroke,” chairman and CEO George Bartell said in a statement.

The screenings will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day of the month starting Feb. 16.

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