Panel weighs effect of COVID-19 on retail pharmacy on 2nd day of DSN Industry Issues Summit


Drug Store News' four-day Industry Issues Summit continued Tuesday with a fast-tracking presentation on “Retail Pharmacy’s Healthcare Role,” moderated by McKesson’s president of community pharmacy, Nimesh Jhaveri.

Panelists — who discussed the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on change at retail pharmacy and next steps — included Dain Rusk of Publix, Rina Shah of Walgreens, Ryan Rumbarger of CVS Pharmacy, Samantha Hoye of Cardinal Health, Craig Norman of H-E-B, Tom Utech of iA, Jeff Key of Pioneer Rx, and Alisha Mecier of eHealth.

Jhaveri noted that next steps for health care at retail begin with the critical role it has played before and during the pandemic. "We’re all seeing in this pandemic that the government really relied heavily on our businesses this year, more than ever — particularly retail pharmacy and its suppliers and stakeholders — to combat this pandemic.”

To view the full discussion, click here

Tuesday's session followed a keynote delivered on Monday by NYU Stern School of Business professor Amy Webb on “How to Think Like a Futurist." The event continues on Wednesday with a panel moderated by Hamacher Resource Group's Dave Wendland about “Great Expectations: How Retail Pharmacy is Executing Patient Care." It will conclude Thursday with a panel moderated by Mack Elevation's Dan Mack on  “Building Strategic Supplier and Retailer Partnerships.” To register for the final two panels, click here

At Tuesday's panel, participants disucssed the extent to which the country has relied on community pharmacy as resource throughout the pandemic, with Walgreens’ Shah highlighting pharmacies' early role in answering patient questions, then expanding that role to include testing and soon further growing to include COVID-19 vaccines — all while providing flu immunizations and other clinical services. 

"It’s a critical moment for pharmacies. As we now get ready for vaccinations, the momentum and relationship we’re been able to create with the public and private sector is incredible,” Shah said.

Rumbarger agreed with Shah, stating that this year ended up being the proving ground, in which retail pharmacy can and should play a role in health care. “We were there from day one. What people forget is the burden on the healthcare system and the relief we were able to provide by stepping up."

Among the future potential identified by panelists is the pharmacy as a community hub — something that has become clear during the pandemic. 

“From our perspective, we heard that they felt safe going to their pharmacies," eHealth's Mecier said. "That says a lot about the service and support pharmacies provided across the company."

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