As a way to boost service in its pharmacies, Ahold USA has launched ACT!, an initiative to make customers feel important and appreciated.

Ahold USA, pharmacies, pharmacists, ACT!, Raymond McCall, Stop & Shop, Giant Food, Giant Food Stores, Martin's Food Markets, ScriptPro, comprehensive medication reviews, CMRs, CMR Days, Outcomes Inc., medication therapy management, McKesson, Pharmacy Intervention Program, PIP, retail pharmacies, supermarket, flu shots, immunizations

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Pharmacists get into ACT! at Ahold USA

July 23rd, 2013

CARLISLE, Pa. – As a way to boost service in its pharmacies, Ahold USA has launched ACT!, an initiative to make customers feel important and appreciated.

Under the program, pharmacists for the food and drug retailer's Stop & Shop, Giant Food Stores (Carlisle, Pa.), Giant Food (Landover, Md.) and Martin's Food Markets chains have been asked to make an effort to acknowledge every customer, commit to counseling on all new therapy and therapy changes, make an effort to thank every ­customer, and identify and take advantage of opportunities to exceed customer ­expectations, according to Raymond McCall, senior vice president of pharmacy and health and beauty care.

Of Ahold USA's 772 supermarkets, 563 — or about 73% — have a pharmacy. Besides providing added convenience, offering a pharmacy within grocery stores allows the retailer to provide customers with a more robust health and wellness experience than a traditional drug store can offer, McCall noted.

"Counseling is our best opportunity to communicate the value we provide," he said. "It's key to creating customer awareness that they're receiving more from us than just a filled prescription. They have an advocate who is concerned about their health and sees them as a person, not just a prescription."

To optimize pharmacy efficiency and foster counseling, Ahold has installed ScriptPro units in 20 of its highest-volume pharmacies. The machines free up pharmacist and technician time to allow the pharmacist to focus on patient counseling.

And to better coordinate with pharmacy workflow, Ahold scheduled comprehensive medication reviews (CMRs) on specific days in conjunction with Outcomes Inc. medication therapy management at several Giant and Martin's pharmacies in Maryland.

"Our 'CMR Days' approach allowed us to dedicate specific pharmacists to the events and gave us the opportunity to prepare, in advance, for the patient encounters," McCall explained. "We found these events to be successful and already have a second round of dates scheduled."

The company is in the process of rolling out McKesson Corp.'s Pharmacy Intervention Program (PIP), in which pharmacists use motivational interviewing techniques to "coach" patients.

"Rather than just filling prescriptions, we are getting our customers excited about how their medications will help them and motivate them to want to be adherent to their regimens," said McCall. "The pharmacists feel great about the program because it allows them to help their customers and provides reimbursement for their pharmacies. It's encouraging that pharmaceutical manufacturers recognize the value of face-to-face pharmacist/patient interaction and are willing to offer payment for such services."

Pharmacists in all Ahold divisions participate in health fairs and similar events, providing health screening, blood pressure testing and diabetes counseling to their communities. Work is under way to educate pharmacists and customers on annual Medicare Part D enrollment by participating in health days with a health plan partner in certain markets.

Ahold also partners with health plans that provide representatives in stores to educate customers about upcoming changes with the introduction of the health care exchanges.

On the immunization front, the number of flu shots Ahold administered for the 2012/13 season was nearly double the preceding year's figure.

"More customers are enjoying the convenience of receiving their flu shots at retail pharmacies, and as more insurers are covering immunizations, the shots are becoming more affordable," McCall said. "Flu shots also provide us with a great opportunity to speak to customers about other adult immunizations that might help them. Hepatitis B, pneumonia, shingles and pertussis are the primary non-flu immunizations that our pharmacies offer."

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