HEALTH

Your very own pharmacist just a click (and consult) away

BY DSN STAFF

Consumers are working more, playing more, shopping more and learning more online than ever before. So the click-and-consult services that Rite Aid has made available to its wellness+ members not only represent today’s cutting edge, but also offer a peek into how consumers may interact with their healthcare teams tomorrow.

“Patients take a great deal of interest in being able to have a conversation with their pharmacist,” said Robert Thompson, Rite Aid EVP pharmacy. “The online chat is just another vehicle by which a patient might be able to have a discussion with a Rite Aid pharmacist,” he said. And that’s important, Thompson added, because each means of communication holds relevance for different groups of the population. And whether a patient prefers one-on-one consultations, round-the-clock telephone access—an 800 number for wellness+ members to consult a Rite Aid pharmacist has been up and running since that program’s inception in April—or this new online portal, Rite Aid has made itself available to its patients no matter a patient’s personal consultation preference. “For us, it’s all about providing a service that will enhance the ability of patients to communicate with a pharmacist,” Thompson added.

As for the service, wellness+ members can avail themselves of a pharmacist consultation at any time, day or night, either online or in select stores. “The pharmacists that staff our clinical call center are all PharmDs,” Thompson noted. “And many of them have received additional forms of clinical training. Our clinical call center does a variety of clinical programs—including supporting chat—that are really focused on compliance initiatives. They also provide clinical support for our own pharmacists internally.”

Rite Aid’s team of clinical pharmacists will be available to counsel patients on such issues as potential drug-drug interactions between their prescription therapies and their nonprescription remedies, or what foods and drinks may interfere with the effectiveness of their therapies. The clinical pharmacists also will be prepared to counsel on general health questions, such as how to control high blood pressure or lower cholesterol; how to tell the difference between a cold and the flu; ways to help manage diabetes; how to deal with insomnia; and questions about vaccinations.

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Pittsburgh Business Group on Health’s LivingMyLife program to expand

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH The Pittsburgh Business Group on Health’s LivingMyLife program, which helps diabetes patients with disease management through the use of “coach pharmacists,” will soon do the same for those with other diseases, according to published reports.

 

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Friday that LivingMyLife also would help patients with asthma and heart disease. The program, which began in 2006, allows patients to manage their disease with visits to pharmacies, mostly Giant Eagle, Kmart and some independents.

 

 

The announcement was made at the annual healthcare symposium of the group and involved more than 100 attendees, the newspaper reported.

 

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DSC debunks industry misconceptions at briefing

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus, in cooperation with two trade associations representing the dietary supplement industry — the Natural Products Association and the Council for Responsible Nutrition — held a briefing on Capitol Hill Thursday in an effort to debunk some of the untruths and misconceptions about the dietary supplement industry and its role in Americans’ wellness regimens.

“It’s all about prevention. Prevention is the new mantra among consumers,” suggested guest speaker Patrick Rea, publisher and editorial director of Nutrition Business Journal.

Speaking to an audience of staff members from the House of Representatives and Senate, Rea said that even during tough economic times, consumers turn to dietary supplements as an important part of their immunity and prevention plan.

“Consumers looked at supplements as one way through the recession to help take care of themselves. Health is recession resilient, and the sales over time support this fact,” Rea said.

Rea addressed several “industry myths” –– including the notions that dietary supplements are unnecessary because people get what they need from food, that people really do not want to take supplements, that the pharmaceutical industry will destroy the dietary supplement industry and that the industry is unregulated.

“Our numbers show that somewhere between 60% to 80% of Americans take supplements, and 48% of them consider themselves regular users,” Rea said.

Rea also mentioned the growing acceptance of dietary supplements among conventional health practitioners, and the growing trend among pharmaceutical companies to develop their own versions of products usually sold as supplements.

“In a study of healthcare professionals, 72% of physicians and 89% of nurses are dietary supplement consumers, and 79% of physicians and 82% of nurses recommend dietary supplements to their patients,” Rea noted.

Regarding industry regulation, Rea countered that the supplement industry is one of the more highly regulated industries and that the industry welcomes those regulations. “[For example], a lot of the [dietary supplement] companies are rallying behind the [good manufacturing practices] regulations,” he said. “They want it to be known that they are a GMP-compliant company. And, the Dietary Supplement Health Education Act made claims rules clear and has really helped the industry focus and develop.”

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