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Sizing up the competition

Was anyone really surprised that Amazon purchased PillPack for about $1 billion, giving the giant Internet retailer a ready-made entry into the nearly $400 billion pharmacy business?

The answer, of course, is no. Everyone involved in the retail industry — plus a few million other people who just pay attention — were aware that Amazon was going to make a big move to gain a foothold in this industry. The PillPack acquisition does just that, bringing to Amazon the company’s capabilities for medication presorting and shipping to 49 states.

Other retailers are not standing still, though. Drug Store News contacted several key industry executives to find out what they are doing to compete for consumers’ hearts and minds. Here are their thoughts:

Jocelyn Konrad, executive vice president of pharmacy, Rite Aid:
Rite Aid has a long history of serving as a trusted advisor to our patients and customers, and we are committed to maintaining that important role by transforming our business to meet the evolving needs of today’s healthcare marketplace. Our patients and customers visit our pharmacies to seek counsel from our expert pharmacists, with whom they’ve built personal relationships. Our customers and patients also take advantage of the care we offer beyond filling prescriptions, including our clinical pharmacy services like immunizations available at our more than 2,500 pharmacies and convenient care clinics available at select stores.

At the same time, we recognize that the pharmacy industry, and health care as a whole, is experiencing significant change, and in order to remain competitive, we must seek out and explore ways to grow our business while providing the level of care and service we have become known for over the past 55 years.

We remain focused on leveraging our network of conveniently located retail pharmacies, our EnvisionRxOptions PBM and our trusted brand of health and wellness offerings. This includes building momentum for key areas of our business like our innovative Wellness store format, highly successful customer loyalty program and expanded pharmacy service offerings, as we work to enhance our omnichannel and own brand offerings to strengthen our competitive position.

Rick Gates, senior vice president of pharmacy and health-care, Walgreens:
As a trusted healthcare destination, our pharmacies are the first place patients go for accessible community-based care to leverage our trusted experts. In fact, our pharmacists live and work in the communities they serve and are trained to offer personalized solutions to help patients adhere to their medication therapies, answer questions about their drug therapy or provide OTC recommendations, as well as help patients navigate through the complex healthcare system and their insurance coverage.

We take a holistic approach in offering solutions that make it easy for our patients to get personalized care, and over the years, we have redefined what accessibility to health care means by enabling this expertise through our digital assets, such as Pharmacy Chat and Find Care Now. Our pharmacists are there when our patients need us the most. This support ranges from helping patients with questions on the appropriate product to choose during cold and flu season to providing guidance on the supportive medications to take as they go through chemotherapy.

We also are increasing access to community-based health care beyond pharmacy by partnering with healthcare providers across the industry to offer additional services, such as optical, hearing and lab services, and primary care focused on the needs of the local community. With our focus on patient care in the setting of their choice, we believe our digital and community-based pharmacies will continue to prove their relevance in supporting the healthcare journey for our patients today, tomorrow and in the future.

Chris Dimos, president, HealthMart and McKesson Retail Solutions:
As one of health care’s most trusted professional, the pharmacist plays a key role in the high-touch interactions that take place in community pharmacies. With more than 4,900 Health Mart pharmacies, we know that more happens in these stores than just picking up medicine. As a pharmacist myself, I know that the patient relationship is fundamental to better health.
And with our country’s aging population, combined with physician shortages and the need to reduce healthcare costs, we see an expanded clinical role for community pharmacy in the future. Our goal has been, and continues to be, delivering an innovative and caring approach that makes Health Mart the leading pharmacy for consumers and patients who want the best in convenience, access and choice.

Kevin Hourican, president, CVS Pharmacy:
CVS Health always has been focused on making pharmacy and health care easier and more affordable for our customers and patients. We have built a comprehensive network to serve patients with a combination of 9,700 retail pharmacies in local communities across the country, powered by more than 30,000 clinical professionals.

We remain committed to bringing innovative solutions to our customers and patients in order to meet them wherever, whenever and however they choose. In fact, today CVS Pharmacy is the only national pharmacy chain that offers one- to two-day prescription delivery from our nearly 10,000 CVS Pharmacy locations throughout the country, as well as same-day prescription delivery in key metro markets.

CVS Pharmacy also currently offers multi-dose packaging. The packs are clearly labeled with prescriber’s instructions, and medications are mailed directly to the patient’s home or to their local CVS Pharmacy.

We recently introduced ScriptPath, a revolutionary medication management system that tells patients the best time to take each of their medications. We also are making it easy for customers by synching all their prescriptions to pick up on one date. To date, we have more than three million people enrolled in the ScriptSync program.

Earlier this year, we launched the CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder, a first-of-its kind, proprietary tool that leverages new technology and our enterprise data to give our pharmacists access to real-time information for each pharmacy patient to determine the best way for them to save money on out-of-pocket costs.

We also continue to bring innovative solutions to customers through our highly rated CVS Pharmacy mobile app. Our app has been downloaded 21 million times, and we currently have more than 50 million people enrolled in our text message program.

Our industry-leading approach to making pharmacy better for patients has led to best-in-class adherence and healthier patients. This reflects deep integration into the healthcare system and, most importantly, the impact of the personal connections that take place between our pharmacy teams and their patients each day.
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