HEALTH

Supervalu announces retirement of two executives, change in leadership structure

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK The pending retirement of Kevin Tripp as EVP and president of Supervalu’s Retail Midwest region marks a big changing of the guard for one of chain pharmacy’s biggest players. Still unclear is if whether it also signals an exit from the retail pharmacy industry of this well-known and respected executive.

 

Tripp, a veteran pharmacy leader with more than three decades in pharmacy and operations management at Albertsons and American Stores, has had a major impact on Supervalu’s sprawling pharmacy business, driving the company to adopt and expand new patient-care models and forge closer ties with health plan payers, health advocacy groups and patients themselves.

 

 

Tripp came to Supervalu through its purchase of much of the Albertsons retail empire in 2007, and has been the ultimate decision-maker for Supervalu’s pharmacy operations. Among his reports is Chris Dimos, president of the pharmacy division; together, the two leaders have significantly broadened the clinical and patient-education services offered by Supervalu pharmacists, and championed new reimbursement models for those services from the health plan sponsors footing the bills for patients.

 

 

At Albertson’s, Tripp actively promoted certification for diabetic management among the chain’s more than 5,600 pharmacists and more than 2,000 certified pharmacy technicians, overseeing a program that qualified many pharmacists as certified diabetic educators and one of retail pharmacy’s most extensive disease management and diabetic care service offerings.

 

 

That commitment continued at Supervalu. Under Tripp’s direction, Supervalu expanded deeply into clinical care services and added new incentives to lure customers to the company’s more than 920 supermarket-based and stand-alone pharmacies. On a periodic basis, those pharmacies offer health screenings for diabetes, heart health, thyroid conditions and other diseases, and education by pharmacists in its stores to help patients prevent or live with a variety of conditions from diabetes to headaches.

 

 

In a bid to increase compensation by health plan payers for pharmacist-delivered patient-care services, Tripp and Dimos also oversaw the launch of Vitality Check, a health assessment program for health plan members and other patients delivered by company pharmacists for a fee.

 

 

Supervalu’s clinical care and patient education efforts have gained the company plaudits from health advocates. One example: an Award of Meritorious Achievement, presented in April from the American Heart Association for raising awareness of heart disease and its causes.

 

 

Under Tripp and Dimos Supervalu’s pharmacy team also wrestled constantly with new ways to merge the in-store pharmacies in its sprawling network of supermarket holdings — which include Jewel-Osco, Albertsons, Supervalu, Cub Foods, Lucky, Acme, Shaw’s and Shop ‘n Save, among other chains across the United States — with the offerings in its food aisles. A prime example: the company’s Eating Healthy with Diabetes program, under which the pharmacy, patient education and healthcare services offered by the pharmacies are tied to a broader, holistic approach to wellness and disease prevention.

 

 

“The way we go to market is, we want our customers — regardless of which of our banners they’re having their prescriptions filled in — to have a common experience. And how we engage them with some of our newer programs or clinical programs may shift depending on the banner,” Tripp explained in one interview with Drug Store News. “All these banners entered the organization at different points,” he added. “Some of them, like Cub, Jewel-Osco and Sav-on, are already well developed along the clinical pathway. Some of the other banners weren’t quite there yet, but they’re quickly catching up.”

 

 

Long term, said Tripp, “The vision is that we’ll have a national enterprise, and based on our ability to execute [various clinical programs] within the states, we will.”

 

Supervalu’s quest to integrate its pharmacies with other store capabilities will continue following Tripp’s retirement. That much was clear from the company’s announcement that it will restructure to create a new health-and-wellness division under Duncan Mac Naughton, EVP merchandising and marketing. The goal, according to Supervalu’s announcement, is to do a better job of welding together the pharmacy and health and beauty offerings, “creating a total health-and-wellness experience for customers.”

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Twinlab announces its 2009 Mobile Beach Bash Celebration

BY Anna Mcgrath

GALVESTON, Texas Twinlab is kicking off its 2009 Mobile Beach Bash Celebration July 11.

The celebration will coincide with the company’s rateyourabs.com contest for a chance to win a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. The 10-stop beach tour will begin in Galveston, Texas and continue along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts to celebrate this summer’s best beach abs.

The event will feature music, models and plenty of product sales, including Twinlab’s ultimate six-pack helper, Ripped Fuel 5x.

“Twinlab’s Ripped Fuel products are all about helping people get the lean, defined bodies they’ve always wanted, and there’s no better place to show off their success than the beach,” said Marc Stover, director of marketing, ISI Brands/Twinlab. “We ran a similar contest last year with enormous success. This year, we upped the ante and decided to take the party to some of the hottest beaches in the country to find that perfect six-pack.”

Contest entry forms and camera will also be on hand for those wishing to enter. Voting will take place at www.rateyourabs.com through September 13.

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NCPA announces new FSA service

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Community Pharmacists Association on Wednesday announced a new service — the FSAok AutoCopay — that enables community pharmacies to continue serving patients who use flexible spending account debit cards within new IRS regulations.

As of July 1, those regulations precluded customers from using their FSA debit card at drug store retailers that had not secured an Inventory Information Approval System, a point-of-sale system that’s able to identify eligible health care FSA purchases by comparing the purchased items’ UPC or SKU number against a pre-established list of eligible items; keep a separate total for the eligible items; and charge the FSA card only for the eligible items total, and request another form of payment for any remaining items.

“We were pleased late last year when, after meeting with NCPA, the Internal Revenue Service extended the deadline [for the new requirement] from January 1 to July 1, 2009,” stated Bruce Roberts, NCPA EVP and CEO. “During that time, NCPA responded to the needs of our members by collaborating with Finpago’s FSAok AutoCopay service to offer a low-cost solution requiring no special software or POS system so that they can continue to serve their patients’ with FSA accounts with an automated copayment claims service and real time substantiation of eligible over-the counter transactions.”

For pharmacies without point of sale systems, AutoCopay makes it possible to accept payment from patients who use FSA debit cards in accordance to IRS regulations.

“The average pharmacy sells more than $60,000 per year to customers with flexible spending account debit cards,” stated Finpago CEO Fred Hawkins.

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