NAPLES, Fla. — The value of business-to-business partnerships was emphasized at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Regional Chain Conference here earlier this month.
Even as their pharmacists deliver immunizations, medication therapy management and counseling, small chains can partner with other retailers and suppliers to improve care and services, Tim Weber, vice president of pharmacy at Fruth Pharmacy and conference chairman, said in the opening general session.
“At Fruth, these opportunities to share, listen, discuss and collaborate have resulted in an improved and highly productive intern program, improved loyalty program offerings, and development of a plan to greatly enhance patient care and Star Rating performance,” Weber said. “Our front-end teams work tirelessly with our vendor partners to bring value, contests and products to our customers.”
The alliances benefit suppliers as well. “We as regional chains can provide opportunities for our vendor partners to pilot new products and services, share and collaborate on new ideas and services, innovate the practice of pharmacy and the drug store experience, and adapt to change,” he said.
NACDS president and chief executive offier Steve Anderson described the progress achieved by the industry’s united efforts to tell the story of pharmacies, and the continued importance of this priority given the state of the operating environment at the federal and state levels of government.
“We live in a political and public policy environment that is highly volatile,” Anderson said, noting the 2014 election results. “And just because one election is over, it doesn’t mean the next one isn’t right there on the horizon. The 2016 election is right there upon us.”
NACDS chairman John Standley, who is also chairman and CEO of Rite Aid Corp., validated the importance of the association’s conferences, saying, “This is why executives take the time to participate in NACDS meetings like this one. These meetings aren’t ivory tower discussions. They are mission-focused and informative.”
He described NACDS’ priorities in public policy and member services as its “Access Agenda,” citing the association’s work “protecting patient access to our pharmacies and to quality pharmaceutical care” in programs including Medicaid, Medicare and Tricare.
“NACDS is working actively to maintain the current level of care we provide through our traditional drug dispensing business, and we should be,” Standley said. “It’s such a key part of our business and such an important benefit to the health of our patients.”
Another priority is “expanding the access our patients have to quality health care,” he said, such as through the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act that was introduced this winter in the Senate and House.
“All of us are focused on creating new models that improve access to needed health care services,” Standley said. “It could involve clinics, health coaching or any number of things.” NACDS is engaging Congress “to champion legislation” that makes new care models financially viable and sets the stage for greater advances in care, he added.
A third priority of Access Agenda is NACDS’ meetings and conferences, and other opportunities for retailer-supplier partnerships in pharmacy and front-end initiatives, he said.