Retail News Breaks
Medicine Shoppe bolsters brand, store network
August 9th, 2013
DUBLIN, Ohio – More Medicine Shoppe drug stores retained or took on the Medicine Shoppe banner this past fiscal year than in the prior two combined, according to John Fiacco, vice president of the Medicine Shoppe and Medicap division at Cardinal Health Inc.
The community pharmacy franchise now has 600 drug stores under the Medicine Shoppe and Medicap banners, operating in 44 states plus the Virgin Islands. The chain is the 13th-largest pharmacy retailer in terms of pharmacy count, according to the 2013 Annual Report of Retail Pharmacy by Chain Drug Review.
“We do everything we can to protect the franchisees we have,” Fiacco says.
Cardinal Health offers a free business plan for every franchisee, and more than half are using it, he notes.
The upshot is that fewer stores have been sold to chains. “Our focus is on keeping Medicine Shoppes and Medicaps going under their names,” Fiacco comments. “We’ve done a great job overall of keeping stores in the system.”
On the new store front, fully a dozen were converted this year from independent ownership to Medicine Shoppe franchises.
“And we’re finding new owners for existing Medicine Shoppes and Medicaps,” says Fiacco. That’s crucial, he adds, because independent outlets are not being opened at the rate they were 25 or 30 years ago.
The staying power of Medicine Shoppe is being bolstered by the chain’s reputation for personalized care, he says. The first priority of the retailer’s pharmacist-owners is always the patients. And to support them, Cardinal has been at the forefront of “innovation in the practice of pharmacy.”
Franchisee use of Cardinal Health’s Specialized Care Centers — which help pharmacy owners concentrate on immunization services, diabetes care, long-term care and heart health — is thriving, according to Fiacco, who adds that the centers let franchisees find their niche and distinguish themselves in the marketplace, he notes.
“Chains are closing the care gap and participating in the same areas,” he says. “So we have to do it better.”
With comprehensive training and certification required for immunization centers, Cardinal has partnered with the American Pharmacists Association to sponsor annual certification meetings across the country.
In the case of the heart health centers, the focus is on improving outcomes. Monitoring patients is integral to that goal, so Cardinal is seeking ways to automate data collection to improve reporting. “The focus is on bettering what we have and expanding participation,” Fiacco comments.
Another focus is on medication therapy management (MTM), in which Medicine Shoppe was an early leader. Franchise business consultants are charged with tracking their franchisees’ MTM “and encouraging them to get it done.”
The chain works with Mirixa Corp. to get MTM scheduled and get as many cases closed as possible, Fiacco adds.
MTM is just one example of the centrality of patient interaction to current pharmacy practice, he says. “When you look at everything that’s happening today it’s very clear that pharmacy is moving toward payment for performance and measuring outcomes. Without patient interaction you’re not going to get there.”
For seniors, Medicine Shoppe is doing everything possible to educate patients about Medicare Part D and inform them about the open enrollment period for prescription drug plans.
“They’ve got to understand what their options are,” remarks Fiacco. “There is all kinds of information coming at them, and having someone that they know and trust to sort through it is key.”
The high level of recognition and trust for Medicine Shoppe pharmacists was most recently affirmed by J.D. Power and Associates’ 2012 pharmacy customer satisfaction survey. Among drug chains, Medicine Shoppe tied for second with a score of 843, just five points behind the leader.
The result reflects franchisees’ commitment to individualized patient care, Fiacco says. “There’s value in knowing every patient. We all like that. Every one of us as consumers likes to walk into someplace and be recognized. And it’s amplified in health care. That’s what keeps people coming back to Medicine Shoppe and Medicap.”
Customers also appreciate the convenience of the stores for nonprescription items, from snacks to greeting cards. Owners are encouraged to meet shoppers’ front-end needs, says Fiacco, noting that Cardinal’s marketing team has piloted a program to stock promotional seasonal merchandise four times a year in an end-cap.
Looking ahead, he says the retailer’s most imminent task is to look for ways to expand. “That will be a focus in the coming year.”
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