Walmart’s pharmacy operations focus on patient experience, pharmacist empowerment

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Walmart’s pharmacy operations focus on patient experience, pharmacist empowerment

By Sandra Levy - 10/25/2019

Walmart has a long history in retailing and pharmacy operations, and the company is continuing to expand its clinical offerings, while ensuring that pharmacists practice at the top of their license, so that patients benefit by getting quality health care.

Karim Bennis, Walmart’s vice president of strategic planning and implementation for health and wellness, said that given today’s increasingly competitive pharmacy landscape, Walmart knows now more than ever that consumers are looking for quality, accessible and affordable solutions in health care. “We are committed to being part of the solution for American families, both in our pharmacies and across our healthcare offerings,” he said.

That the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer also is working hard to continuously improve its customer experience is evidenced by the recent launch of its “Pharmacy of the Future” pilot, which includes state-of-the-art automation, an elevated customer experience and an expanded suite of services to deliver the highest convenience, experience and quality of service, Bennis said.  

JoLynn Coleman, director of Walmart’s pharmacy clinical services, said the retailer supports its pharmacists in operating at the top of their license as the practice of pharmacy continues to evolve across all states.

“We offer a wide range of clinical services, such as year-round immunizations in 49 states and Puerto Rico,” she said. “Our pharmacies, where allowed in the state, provide CLIA-waived screenings and, in select locations, rapid diagnostic testing. Our MTM/adherence program includes adherence outreach, gaps in therapy, targeted and comprehensive medication reviews, medication synchronization, refill reminders, and messaging.”

Coleman also described Walmart’s efforts with naloxone dispensing and counseling, as well as its prescriptive and specialty pharmacy services. 

“Our pharmacists prescribe and counsel on Naloxone, and are engaged in a comprehensive opioid stewardship program. In specific locations, we offer prescriptive services, including hormonal contraceptive prescribing and treatment for minor ailments. We have a full service specialty pharmacy and also offer select specialty products in our retail locations.”

Walmart’s pharmacy staff provides screenings in more than 4,200 locations nationwide and, through Walmart Wellness days, has administered over four million free screenings, including blood pressure, BMI and total cholesterol.

Walmart also is addressing the growing trend in the pharmacy industry — pharmacists collaborating with other healthcare providers.

“Our pharmacists are a valuable member of the healthcare team, and we empower them to collaborate across the healthcare spectrum — from doctors and midlevel providers to specialists in various fields,” Coleman said. “Our pharmacists are well placed to coordinate care for patients with multiple providers and specialists to help ensure all the medication and services they receive are working together appropriately for the best outcomes for the patients. Collaborative practice agreements are in practice, where allowed in the state, for immunizations, rapid diagnostic testing, health screenings for public health, oral contraceptives, and naloxone dispensing and counseling.”

Walmart pharmacies also are responding to the increasing number of patients with chronic conditions who may be on multiple drug regimens.

Coleman said that through medication therapy management, medication synchronization and comprehensive counseling, Walmart’s pharmacists work to make sure that patients can manage their chronic disease and their medication therapy. “Additionally, we leverage digital tools to help the patient manage adherence to their medications,” she said. 

The company also is aiming to be innovative when it comes to pharmacy services. “We continue to work to reach patients where they are and serve them where they want to be served.” Bennis said. “This includes looking at solutions for busy families, as well as our senior population. We have a unique ability to combine healthy food, nutrition, medication and health services to the community, and we will continue to look at ways to expand these offerings to our customers.”

Walmart currently is investigating opportunities for offering further convenience with LocalRx — its after-hours pickup lockers — health service rooms, and opportunities to integrate pharmacy pickup with grocery pickup, where allowed by law/regulation, Bennis said. 

The company also is pushing the digital envelope in the pharmacy space. “Currently, through our mobile app, customers can easily connect and manage their family’s health,” Bennis said. “By connecting innovative solutions like Narxcare into workflow, our pharmacists are able to provide optimal clinical care with a focus on patient safety. In the future, we are looking at telepharmacy options to integrate with our LocalRx offering.”

As far as the future of Walmart pharmacies, Coleman said that Walmart is committed to saving people money, while providing them the highest quality of care. “Our pharmacists have a trusted relationship with their patients, which is central to our commitment to helping people save money, so they can live better by providing access, affordability and quality.”