Inside This Issue - Opinion
Rite Aid in sync with evolution of health care
April 28th, 2014
Whatever the ultimate fate of the Affordable Care Act, it is clear that fundamental changes in the way health care is delivered and paid for are taking place. Rite Aid understands that, and it has responded to two developments likely to endure even if Obamacare should falter — providers are increasingly being evaluated and remunerated for the outcomes they produce, not the number of services they render, and retail pharmacies are winning recognition for the expanded role they can play in the new health care paradigm.
With the debut of Rite Aid Health Alliance last month, the drug chain served notice that it intends to do more to help customers manage chronic conditions. Currently available in three markets — Buffalo, N.Y.; Greensboro and High Point, N.C.; and greater Los Angeles — the program links Rite Aid with other local health care providers to implement and monitor treatment plans established by physicians.
Rite Aid pharmacists and health coaches from Health Dialog Services work with patients in stores to keep them on ttrack to meet their health improvement goals. Services range from medication reviews and compliance support to education about disease states, nutrition and weight management, and advice on exercise.
By leveraging the unmatched accessibility of pharmacies and the untapped potential of the pharmacists who staff them, and supplementing those professionals with trained health coaches, Rite Aid Health Alliance is designed to fill a conspicuous gap in the continuum of care.
“There have been many efforts made in the past to connect pharmacies to providers,” says John Standley, the drug chain’s chairman and chief executive officer (who will become NACDS chairman this week). “Retailers have tried models in which care is transitioned, so that patients have their prescriptions delivered directly to the store when they leave the hospital. Others have tried to work with providers on compliance on the pharmacy side. Ours is a more holistic solution for the patient.
“The success of the program should follow the evolving course of the affordable care landscape. As more providers become risk focused, it creates more opportunity. The service is going to be driven by patient populations with chronic and poly-chronic conditions and by providers that assume risk.”
Rite Aid signaled its confidence in the Health Alliance concept at the start of this month when it acquired Health Dialog, which, in addition to health coaching, has expertise in health care analytics and decision support. Nine days later the drug chain purchased RediClinic, an operator of in-store health clinics. Terms of the transactions were not disclosed, but for Rite Aid, which is still coping with a large debt load accumulated before Standley became chief executive in 2009, the transactions are especially noteworthy.
The creation of Rite Aid Health Alliance and the subsequent acquisition clearly signal that the willingness to embrace new ideas exhibited by the drug chain in recent years is alive and well. Such innovations as wellness+, a loyalty program centered on health care, and the wellness store concept, which places as much emphasis on providing customers with information as on products and services, have led Rite Aid back to profitability, even as they have helped enlarge the horizons of community pharmacy. That approach is good for the company, the consumer and the industry.