MEDINA, Ohio — Pharmacy services will be a focus for Discount Drug Mart in 2017 following a year in which the chain saw a gain in medication therapy management revenue and increased demand for flu shots.
The retailer doubled revenues from MTM in 2016 and provided 5% more immunizations than in the previous flu season. This year the retailer will expand its offerings of other, nonseasonal vaccines for diseases including shingles, tetanus and MMR. It will also continue to increase enrollment of patients in its medication synchronization program.
“These pharmacy initiatives will permit us to help our patients achieve positive outcomes and improved health as well as help offset the lower prescription reimbursements that we have experienced in the past several years,” says chief financial officer Mike Eby. “We believe that Discount Drug Mart is very well positioned to navigate the changes that will occur in 2017 in the health care industry and beyond with the wide array of services that we offer to our customers and our continued commitment to our concept of 360 Care.”
The chain will open two stores this year — and add a third by the middle of 2018. It will also remodel three to five outlets, giving customers a fresh, updated look and improved service.
Discount Drug Mart also is looking to expand its partnership with MetroHealth by adding more walk-in clinics in stores. It currently has four stores with clinics, all of which are performing well. “We will continue to gradually add clinics as an additional service to our customers as part of our commitment to 360 Care,” Eby comments.
The retailer will also continue to educate customers about home health care, promoting its expanded offerings from its acquisition of Hastings Professional Medical Equipment. Able now to deliver oxygen, hospital beds and stair climbers, Discount Drug Mart is “just starting to scratch the surface of the potential synergies” between its traditional retail store business and home health care business, Eby says.
The chain also will continue to add delis in stores that have the right customer demographics and competitive environment. Over half of the chain’s stores currently have a deli.
And it will continue upgrading to LED lighting and installing energy management systems to boost stores’ energy efficiency.
What really differentiates Discount Drug Mart from other drug chains is its larger size (average store about 27,000 square feet) and deeper product line at the front end. “We like to say that ‘if we don’t have it, you probably don’t need it,’ ” notes Eby.
He adds that one of the biggest issues in the chain drug industry in 2017 will be the impact of the Trump administration on the health care system. He says it is not clear yet what will happen to health insurance or how Discount Drug Mart will be affected, “but we do know that we will have to be nimble in order to take advantage of the opportunities and manage the challenges that we will experience as a result of these changes.”
Generally speaking, the change in administration is expected to have a positive impact on drug chains, particularly on the durable medical equipment side of the business with the appointment of Tom Price — who has been a leading advocate of DME — as secretary of health and human services.
But also in 2017, Eby anticipates that the trend of the past several years toward lower prescription reimbursement levels will, unfortunately, continue.
To offset this decline, Discount Drug Mart will continue to implement other revenue-generating services. Its Contact Center, which has been operational for about three years, continues to help it in this regard by reducing the burden on pharmacists, helping to free them up so that they have the time to participate in such services as MTM, immunizations and med synch to better serve customers.