Industry’s best and brightest collaborate at 18th DSN Industry Issues Summit

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Industry’s best and brightest collaborate at 18th DSN Industry Issues Summit

By David Salazar - 12/02/2016
NEW YORK — Some 275 retail and CPG executives descended on the New York Athletic Club Thursday to talk about the future role the industry can play in chronic care management, how companies can embrace technology to better serve customers and patients and where the industry is headed at the 18th annual DSN Industry Issues Summit. The event was preceded Wednesday night with a cocktail reception at the Redeye Grill near Central Park.


The best-attended DSN Industry Issues Summit yet included a Chronic Conditions Summit roundtable and another on Technology, Health and Wellness, with the event culminating in the Industry Issues Summit roundtable. In between lunch and the final panel, attendees got to hear thoughts on the state of American politics in the aftermath of the election from Tucker Carlson, host of the recently debuted Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”


“I’d like to thank all of our participants and sponsors, which include today’s most progressive retailers and leading suppliers, as well as everyone who attended this year’s event, for their part in making this the most successful DSN Industry Issues Summit yet, “ Drug Store News publisher Eric Savitch said. “Drug Store News is thrilled to once again bring everyone together for a day of sharing best practices in responding to the myriad changes taking place in our industry and to foster a space for thinking about how to best advance the industry and your companies through innovation and strong partnerships.”


The Industry Issues Summit Panel featured Elevation Forum founder and author Dan Mack discussing with Sam’s Club VP DMM healthcare David Badeen; Jet.com associate director of merchandising and first-time participant Zac Bensinger; AmerisourceBergen VP consumer products Tim Buskey; CVS Health VP healthcare, pricing and business planning George Coleman; Walgreens group VP and GMM health and wellness Robert Tompkins; and Walmart VP OTC merchandising Annie Walker what the future of localization looks like, what a seamless omnichannel experience looks like, how to stay ahead of emerging trends and how manufacturers and retailers can best engage shoppers.



When it comes to localization, Tompkins noted that one way to think about localization is through the lens of volume and that companies should ask if they’re investing in the right stores rather than the most stores. Walker discussed how Walmart puts an omnichannel approach at the center of its efforts to embody its motto to help people “save money and live better,” citing grocery delivery as a key component of that effort. But most of the panelists also discussed the importance of understanding what customers want beyond anything else, as well as the need for manufacturers to maximize collaboration between themselves and retailers.


“Margins are shrinking everywhere,” Mack said at the outset of the panel. “We need productivity enhancement — with our time, with our investment, with our trade, we've got to get more out of our relationships together and optimize our mutual investments together.”


This year’s Technology, Health & Wellness panel — moderated by McKesson SVP corporate development and business strategy Chris Dimos — was the largest panel at an Industry Issues Summit ever, and featured insight on the role retail pharmacy can play in helping patients manage chronic conditions from Kroger VP Pharmacy Phlecia Avery; Walgreens VP pharmacy operations Rick Gates; CVS Health EVP pharmacy services and supply chain Kevin Hourican; Rite Aid EVP pharmacy Jocelyn Konrad; H-E-B SVP pharmacy Craig Norman; Shopko SVP retail health and wellness Darren Singer; Thrifty White Pharmacy COO Tim Weippert; Innovation EVP global business development Doyle Jensen; PioneerRx managing director Jeff Key; PercptiMed chief business officer Frank Maione; PharmaSmart Internationa COO and GM Ashton Maraaba; Supplylogix VP and GM Rick Sage, and higi chief technology officer Khan Siddiqui.


Among retailers’ largest challenges mentioned were shrinking pharmacy margins, growing direct-indirect remuneration (more commonly known as DIR) fees and and increasing requirements on the pharmacist’s time as health care continues to move to value-based/performance-based system. Jensen highlighted Innovation’s central fill initiatives, Weippert discussed Thrifty White’s efforts with medication synchronization and Hourican mentioned CVS Health’s services, which have grown to include Specialty Connect for centrally filling specialty scripts. Singer noted that Shopko’s main focus these days was freeing up its pharmacists to spend more time with patients, building relationships and trust — an effort that other retailers echoed their support for.


Hamacher Resource Group VP strategic relations Dave Wendland moderated the event’s Chronic Conditions Summit panel, which featured Costco director of professional services Becky Dant; Shopko director of pharmacy professional services Gregg Jones; Health Mart chief pharmacist Crystal Lennartz; H-E-B director of business development and procurement Leon Nevers; Rite Aid group VP managed care Tammy Royer; Walgreens senior director/merchandising manager advanced care and home healthcare Michael Wolf; Retractable Technologies executive director of global health Kathryn Duesman; Johnson & Johnson Consumer president of health and wellness solutions Len Greer; BD Medical senior director of retail national accounts Brendon Hill; Menasha senior sales director Paul Murphy; and MD Labs co-founder Matt Rutledge.


The panel expanded its scope beyond the traditional question of how to best address the needs of patients with diabetes, focusing instead on any patient with chronic diseases — which panelists agreed begins with asking what a patient’s needs are. Duesman noted Retractable Technologies’s work to prevent patients from reusing or misusing sharps, Lennartz spoke about Health Mart’s work to help their independent partners meet patients at their need state and Greer discussed J&J’s efforts to better understand patients through behavior technology.


Mack closed the day with a reminder about the importance of capitalizing on every meeting between retailers and their vendor-partners.


“The best entrepreneurs are great listeners and we need to be more entrepreneurial as an industry,” Mack said. “Meetings are about listening, engagement is about listening, relationships are about listening. Any meeting that does not stir imagination and curiosity is a lost opportunity. Every meeting that's not a co-creating opportunity is a missed opportunity. Any meeting that's not talking about broad ideas is a missed opportunity. As a result, we have to be unlearning and relearning our approaches constantly.”


Executive reports from each of the three Dec. 1 panel discussions — the Health, Wellness and Technology Summit, the Chronic Care Roundtable and the more broadly front-end-focused Issues Summit — will appear in the February, March and April 2017 editions of DSN.