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Ahold USA pharmacy initiative aims to make patients feel important, appreciated


NEW YORK — As pharmacy organizations tout the pharmacist as the face of neighborhood health care, one retailer is encouraging its own pharmacists to be more proactive.

Ahold USA has launched ACT! in an effort to get its pharmacists to build closer relationships with their patients. ACT! stands for "Acknowledge," "Coach" and "Thank." Ahold USA owns the Stop & Shop, Giant Food of Landover, Md., and Giant Food Stores of Carlisle, Pa., chains in the Northeast.

"Quite simply, we are encouraging the pharmacists to take a more active, deliberate role in communicating with our patients," Ahold USA manager of pharmacy clinical programs Andrew Markievich told Drug Store News. "We're asking the pharmacists to be proactive in their communication rather than reactive."

This includes coaching patients about new therapies and therapy changes. For example, newly diagnosed patients with diabetes or high blood pressure will be coached about their drugs, but that will also include a discussion about diet. Ahold's pharmacists can complete a diabetes certification program from the American Pharmacists Association that includes ways diabetics can manage their disease through diet, and a partnership with Lifescan includes recipe books and grocery guides for patients with the disease. Referrals to nutritionists can also be made.

An important aspect of the program is personalizing the patient-pharmacists relationship. "We've noticed that independent pharmacies typically score very high in customer satisfaction," Markievich said. "As owners of their pharmacies, these pharmacists make a deliberate effort to make each customer feel important and appreciated. That's been our goal and model for ACT! — encourage our pharmacists to adopt an ownership mentality and make each customer feel important and appreciated."

So far, the patient response has been positive, with many calling and emailing the company saying they were made to feel important and appreciated. "We celebrate these and share as many of these accounts as we can with our pharmacy teams," Markievich said.

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