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Keeping it relevant, Walgreens lays out key pharmacy strategy to CNNMoney

The evolution of services now available at retail pharmacy has gained traction with news organizations targeting the investment community. CNNMoney recently spoke at length with one of the retail pharmacy change catalysts — Greg Wasson of Walgreens.  

Wasson and other retail pharmacy operators have been blazing a new pathway to cheaper and more convenient health care for some time. Inoculations and medication therapy management programs were only the beginning; the future of retail pharmacy is in successfully managing lives with a healthcare system partner. "There's an opportunity for the pharmacist to play a much greater role in health care, especially with what we have going on in this country with the shortage of primary care physicians," Wasson explained to CNNMoney. "Plus, we also can involve the front of our store, being the first source for health and daily living, continuing to make sure we're relevant in today's society."

The key word there is "relevance." That's the challenge and opportunity in today's business world: How do you remain relevant to your core body of customers? For pharmacy, the answer has been found in helping to streamline the delivery of health care — extending services into care areas like convenient immunizations, medication therapy management or an in-store clinic that can provide both acute care and disease-state management at a cost savings to healthcare payers. 

Of course, Walgreens also is changing up its front-end mix in an effort to extend that healthcare relevance beyond the pharmacy counter. The pharmacy operator has recast its front end as a destination for health and daily living in addition to a convenience play, Wasson told CNNMoney, with the successful introduction of fresh food and prestige beauty.

Walgreens has helped to reshape a consumer's perception as to what's available at the corner drug store. All chain pharmacies have OTC and beauty facings. But what sets them apart? For Walgreens, the answer has become product assortments that complement one of the primary reasons a person walks through their doors to begin with — to maintain their health. In other words, it's all about making sure the pharmacy offer on both sides of the bench remains "relevant" to the end consumer.

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