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Kinney touts pharmacists' health care role
October 27th, 2010
GOUVERNEUR, N.Y. – Kinney Drugs has seen a spike in the number of patients using its pharmacy services since launching an effort to highlight how its pharmacists can make a difference in their health care outcomes and costs, according to executives.
The pharmacy operator, which has 92 stores in central and northern New York and Vermont, last month began an initiative to better educate its customers about the pivotal role pharmacists play in their health care as well as the importance of taking medications properly as part of American Pharmacists Month.
Although most of the services — including immunizations, medication therapy management, automatic refills, compliance programs and home delivery of prescriptions — have been part of Kinney's operation for a few years, the effort marks the first time that the chain has positioned the services as a comprehensive offering.
"We looked at everything we were offering to our patients and, rather than just plow forward, we thought that putting more promotion behind it would benefit the patient," director of pharmacy operations Mike Duteau said.
Central to Kinney's campaign is informing patients about the medicines they take and the value of building relationships with its pharmacists. Duteau noted that IMS Health data show that in the United States, only 25% to 30% of new prescriptions are taken correctly.
"Compliance is driven by access and affordability, and it's easy to be noncompliant when people have to make purchasing decisions, they can't get to the pharmacy or they are not fully informed about their medication," explained Duteau. "Pharmacists can make it easier for people to understand their heath care and the value of taking medications as prescribed by their doctors. It's important to know your medicine and your pharmacist."
To spur compliance and make it easier for patients to develop one-on-one relationships with its pharmacists, Kinney offers free or low-cost programs to educate the communities it serves about managing prescriptions and health care, and making them more affordable and accessible. For example, the chain offers free consultations that go beyond just ensuring that patients understand their prescriptions.
Duteau said Kinney pharmacists also help people better understand Medicare Part D and which insurance plan makes the most sense, based on their medication history. Pharmacists can also provide free advice on over-the-counter medications, based on individual health issues and current medications, he added. Kinney is also among the growing number of community pharmacies to offer flu immunizations and a prescription discount program, and it is one of the few chains to provide free home delivery of medications.
Recently, Kinney began its ReadyScripts program that allows patients to automatically have prescriptions refilled before they run out of medication. Duteau said the program takes the burden off patients on maintenance drugs having to remember to refill their prescriptions, boosting the consistency of their care and increasing compliance.
Much of what Kinney is doing in its pharmacies is being driven by the chain's use of sophisticated pharmacy technology. For instance, Duteau said, Kinney has embraced electronic prescribing, and more doctors are using the system. As a result, he noted, patients get their prescriptions faster, and the chance of medication errors has been nearly eliminated.
Besides its retail pharmacy stores, Kinney also operates three other divisions: ProAct Inc., a prescription benefit management company; HealthDirect institutional pharmacy services; and HealthDirect mail-order pharmacy services.