Cardinal showcases new offerings for indies

7/29/2008

ORLANDO, Fla. Making the most of its annual get-together with its independent pharmacy customers, wholesale and health care giant Cardinal Health unveiled a menu of expanded offerings to help smaller-scale pharmacy operators compete in a marketplace dominated by powerful drug and supermarket chains and big-box mass merchants.

Cardinal showcased several new offerings at its 19th annual Retail Business Conference, which drew more than 4,000 attendees to this resort city July 23-26. Among them:

  • A new, exclusive line of home health care products, under the brand name TrustWorth. The line includes bath safety, mobility and personal care products, many of which are reimbursable through Medicare, Medicaid and most third-party insurance companies. To support the line, Cardinal has developed marketing materials, in-store signage, a merchandising program, catalogues and other materials.
  • New outbound calling technology to help pharmacies build relationships with customers. The so-called Abby system is a web-based, interactive outbound calling tool that allows retailers to notify patients when prescriptions are ready or need to be refilled, share information regarding special promotions and conduct customer surveys. Calls can be made using the local pharmacist’s voice or by professional voice talent, and the pharmacy’s local phone number appears in the patient’s caller ID.
  • New technology to help independents manage and build non-pharmacy sales at the front of the store. Cardinal partnered with ECRS to offer the system, which automatically re-orders front-of-store merchandise as it’s purchased, provides electronic order updates and confirmations and provides profit analysis on products at the item level. It also enhances prescription sales accountability by scanning and tracking all prescriptions at checkout. The ECRS technology reduces inventory and out-of-stocks, according to Cardinal, “and is proven to increase front-of-store sales by 5 to 10 percent.”

Also on display on the convention trade floor: a prescription counting system to boost accuracy and efficiency, based on Cardinal’s expanding alliance with Kirby Lester.

The focus of Cardinal’s efforts is the potential locked in its national co-operative network of independent pharmacies that belong to its Leader Pharmacy membership program. That program now includes some 3,500 stores, and company officials are working hard to turn the Leader brand into a nationally recognized symbol of expanded, personalized pharmacy services without sacrificing the local character and customer loyalty of each member pharmacy.

“Through our broad Leader offering, we’re creating long-term partnerships to help independent pharmacies attract new, loyal customers, drive efficiency and improve their financial performance,” asserted Mike Kaufmann, Cardinal’s group president of healthcare supply chain services for pharmaceuticals. “We’re committed to helping retail independents respond to health care trends and position their businesses to win, no matter how the market changes.”

The expanded offerings reflect the recognition from Cardinal’s store-support people that independent pharmacies need more help to thrive amid daunting competition—and to take full advantage of expanding opportunities in health care. “Our adversaries are formidable. We have challenges on all fronts of our business, from changes in the marketplace and how we compete, to government regulations and the evolving profile of our customers,” said Steve Lawrence, senior vice president of marketing and sales. “As your partner, Cardinal Health is working to help you respond and to keep independent pharmacy in a position to win, no matter how the market changes.”

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