NACDS: Retail pharmacy to advance role as 'disruptive innovators'


PALM BEACH, Fla. — Disruptive innovation. That's the role pharmacy needs to play in the shaping of a new healthcare paradigm — one that achieves greater outcomes at lesser cost through increased involvement of retail health care. That was the theme of a presentation given Tuesday by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores' new chairman Greg Wasson, who also serves as Walgreens president and CEO.

"It's up to all of us to step up, look long-term and not short-term, and to advance this great profession," Wasson said, giving his first address before NACDS as chairman.

He described community pharmacy’s operating environment in terms of “pushes” and “pulls,” saying that “those who want to commoditize our industry, our profession” and who have “reduced the value of the patient-pharmacist relationship to merely the tactical part of the job — dispensing the pill” are motivating factors for community pharmacy. It's those detractors who represent the "push," he said, as they drive pharmacy operators to evolve their pharmacy model to incorporate more and more counseling and delivery services — services that are well beyond the scope of a mere pharmaceutical accountant. 

Wasson also described “the pull” as “what is pulling our industry to step up — that’s our nation’s need for new, innovative solutions to solve our healthcare crisis.”

“The fact is, this push-pull is creating an enormous opportunity for this industry to step up and play a much, much greater role to be what this country needs, providing affordable and accessible healthcare services and using the pharmacy profession to its fullest capacity,” Wasson said. “Many of us are also using our community presence to co-locate doctors and nurse practitioners in our stores to expand these services even further. If pharmacists and nurse practitioners are allowed to practice at the top of their profession, community pharmacy can provide a high percentage of primary care services in this country,” he said. "If we position community pharmacy effectively as the face of neighborhood health care, this industry will emerge as a disruptive innovator and will create a positive long-term impact on healthcare delivery for the good of the patients."

Wasson also emphasized the importance of leveraging the entire store and the products of suppliers to address a comprehensive view of health and wellness. So gone would be the duality of front-end and back-end silos and in its place a total wellness concept where every product in the store can contribute to a consumer's sense of wellness, including the emotional wellness realized through many general merchandise categories, such as party goods and photo services.

Breaching the barriers between front-end and back-end will be better facilitated at next year's NACDS Total Store Expo, he said, which combines three shows — Marketplace Conference, the Pharmacy and Technology Conference and the Supply Chain & Logistics Conference — that debuts August 2013.

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