DIR fees are again top of mind for pharmacy operators beginning another year without relief from these “phantom” expenses. At the same time hope springs eternal for retailers looking to broaden affordable and accessible health care offerings when such services from more traditional providers can be out of financial reach for many people. Chains also continue to launch innovative presentations of front-end categories as well as bolstering their e-commerce appeal to entice omnichannel shoppers. Leading industry executives give their outlook for 202o, for their businesses and the sector as a whole in the U.S. and Canada.
I’m energized by what’s happened over the last 12 months and the opportunities that we have in front of us. The things that have transpired are validating our belief in the vision that moved us in this direction of combining CVS and Aetna into one company.
One of the opportunities we have is to make the products and services we’re building broadly available in the marketplace, and we know from discussions we’ve had that there is growing interest in that. A lot of that centers around the growing belief in consumerism we’re seeing in health care, which some describe as the emergence of the retail health consumer. So, it really speaks to the capabilities and the assets that we’ve developed over a number of years.
In terms of delivering transformational products and services, we are continuing to advance innovative pilot programs and introduce innovative offerings. Our oncology pilot continues to roll out across selected geographies, and we also rolled out the first phase of our chronic kidney care management program to Aetna and Caremark clients for early disease detection and care management development. With several hundred members under management, we are moving on to the second phase of the program, which is the face-to-face counseling around different dialysis modalities. And our home hemodialysis clinical trial is progressing as expected, with our first two sites active.
At retail, HealthHUBs are projected to be in 1,500 locations by the end of 2021. The format is critical to CVS’ efforts to become the most consumer-centric health care company. These stores make health care local. There’s an opportunity and a need to meet people where they are, whether it’s in the community, in their home or, for many now, in the palm of their hand.
With Aetna, we have a tremendous amount of information about patients and their specific needs. That enables us to suggest what we’re calling the Next Best Action for each individual on their health journey. In the past Aetna would pick up the phone and work to engage members, or perhaps send them a letter, to activate that Next Best Action. It’s historically difficult to make that work. Now think about the opportunity to engage with consumers at a community level with someone that they know and trust, whether it’s the pharmacist or perhaps the nurse practitioner. Our belief is that if we can get consumers to think a bit more about their health, meeting them where they are and becoming part of their regular routine, it will make a significant difference in their health.
We have a health care system that has become very complex and difficult to use and navigate. We see an opportunity to make the system simpler and help consumers get the information and the resources that they need with which to make informed decisions about their care.
Co-Chief Operating Officer
Walgreens Boots Alliance
It should come as no surprise that many trends we’re seeing across pharmacy and retail today are being driven by technology. The pace of change can serve as a backdrop for where we’re headed as an industry in 2020 and beyond; however, the most important key to success will always be the end user — i.e., the customer.
Being a trusted, local partner in our customer’s journey has never been more critical, especially when you consider how increasingly digital our society has become.
The importance of that deep, personal connection was part of the inspiration behind Feel More Like You, a program we introduced to help cancer patients manage the medical and physical changes associated with their treatment, and which brings together the training and expertise of our pharmacists working closely with our beauty consultants.
That personal touch is also fundamental to one of the most notable trends that’s top of mind for retailers and health care providers, and that’s personalization. A recent Accenture study shows nearly two-thirds of consumers (63%) are interested in receiving personalized recommendations from brands.
With AI and other technological advancements, personalization is becoming paramount to customer engagement. It’s not just offering personalized lifestyle or wellness solutions, or product recommendations, it’s also making them available via a customer’s delivery method of choice.
There’s transformation happening everywhere across the industry in response to continually evolving customer behaviors and interests. Among them is the growing expectation for anytime, anywhere, “on my terms” convenience. Consumers’ reliance on technology remains on a rapid rise, and in the last two years alone digital device usage is up more than three hours per day, according to the same Accenture study.
We’re accelerating efforts to digitalize Walgreens’ business across every customer touch point to create a more modern retail offering and differentiated shopping experience, whether it begins on our app, on our website on the phone or in-store, through our own capabilities or those of our partners.
Our mobile app has surpassed 50 million downloads, and among our 2019 initiatives we expanded our Find Care platform to include chronic care management, providing more solutions for patients with diabetes, asthma and COPD.
Find Care is a great example of bringing together physical and digital platforms to create a true omnichannel experience, something I believe we’ll see more of across the industry in 2020 to create a more modern retail offering. We don’t need a crystal ball to know that whether you’re reimagining, remodeling or revolutionizing, the retail experience is evolving quickly and modernization is key to staying relevant with our customers.
As much as we talk about the growth of online sales, the vast majority of retail transactions still take place in our stores.
At Walgreens, one of the ways we’re reimagining and accelerating change is through partnerships. We’ve expanded our Kroger pilot into a new market in Knoxville, while also expanding the Kroger Express concept to 50 stores. At the same time, we’ve added our health and beauty brands to 17 of their grocery locations.
We’re also enhancing the shopping experience through our nationwide offering with FedEx, launching a new customer returns system just before the holidays. And, furthering our wellness partnerships, Jenny Craig will open health and weight loss management centers in 100 Walgreens stores this year.
Partnerships, the need for access, technology and keeping our customers at the forefront of everything we do, all point toward the “retailization” of health care becoming even more prevalent in 2020. With the current growth rate of health care tenants in retail locations like Walgreens, industrywide, this number is predicted to double in the next two to three years.
This will yield more opportunities to improve care coordination with pharmacists, and primary care is a great example.
In 2019, as part of our efforts to create neighborhood health destinations in stores, we expanded primary care collaborations to now offer these services with strategic partners in more than a dozen locations. These bring our core pharmacy expertise together with our partners’ quality primary care services, to provide simpler, more accessible and affordable health care options for patients.
We’re also doing more with senior-focused primary care; however, a lingering question on the other end of the spectrum is how to attract and drive loyalty among younger generations of customers.
One of the ways we can all make an impact is through a greater focus on sustainable business practices, especially when you consider our expansive industry footprint. Studies consistently show about two-thirds of consumers would support brands whose corporate values and beliefs are aligned to their own. For the Millennial population, that figure is even higher, more than 80%, according to a recent Glassdoor study.
Taking care of our planet, our customers and communities, and our people — it’s a great place to start, and I look forward to another exciting and eventful year in 2020.
Executive Vice President of Pharmacy and Retail Operations
Rite Aid Corp.
At Rite Aid we are in the process of building our strategy. We’re working to evolve and grow the Rite Aid brand with a focus on own-brand products. We have also declared that Rite Aid is a health care organization, and many elements of our strategy will continue to focus on the health and well-being of our customers.
We’ve also been focusing on having pharmacists practice at the top of their license, essentially freeing up their time to allow them to better serve our customers. It’s critical to provide pharmacists with the time they need to have face-to-face interactions with customers, whether to provide O-T-C recommendations or clinical services, such as point-of-care testing, in states where it’s available.
We’re also continuing to evolve in the pharmacy space based on changes to laws and actions from state boards of pharmacy. For example, in Idaho pharmacists now have prescriptive authority, and Rite Aid made that offering a priority for our team and customers.
Reimbursement rate pressure in the retail pharmacy segment and margin compression in the pharmacy services segment have impacted Rite Aid. However, we are pleased with the improvements in our top-line growth and operating efficiency in the retail pharmacy segment, and Medicare Part D revenue growth in the pharmacy services segment.
Additionally, continued reimbursement rate pressures were offset by generic cost savings and same-store prescription count growth.
Rite Aid has a commitment to providing healthier front-end offerings to customers. We have made significant progress in reducing the number of own-brand products containing eight chemicals of high concern through our elimination initiative.
As a result of actions to date, Rite Aid has leapfrogged CVS and risen two spots from last year in the Mind the Store Retailer Report Card. Rite Aid currently ranks fifth out of 43 evaluated retailers, and is the leading drug store chain in terms of addressing toxic chemicals in products and packaging.
Rite Aid also became a signatory to the Chemical Footprint Project in 2019. Currently, we are encouraging suppliers of own-brand formulated products to participate in the Chemical Footprint Project survey accordingly.
Additionally, we have successfully expanded our iconic Thrifty Ice Cream brand to 900 more stores in the Northwest and Northeast, and we have a robust pipeline of new own-brand items with an increased focus on health, beauty and better-for-you, natural and organic consumables. Rite Aid also removed e-cigarettes and vaping products and increased the age for purchasing any tobacco products to 21 years throughout our chain.
Finally, as we reimagine our front-end offering, we know that enhancing our digital capabilities presents a significant opportunity to develop stronger relationships with our customers.
Within the drug store industry all retailers, of course, will follow their own path. At Rite Aid our focus is to exceed the health care needs of our customers. That goes from front-end product offerings to how customers interact with pharmacists for recommendations. We believe it’s imperative to take care of customers along their unique journeys and meet them where they are, based on what they need.
Additionally, we don’t believe many customers understand the true value proposition pharmacists bring to the table. When immunizations became available at pharmacies, it took time, but the consumer ultimately adopted the thought of coming to the pharmacy for an immunization. As customers get more comfortable receiving interventions from pharmacists (e.g., well care, O-T-C recommendations or higher-touch care for chronically ill patients or their caregivers), we believe pharmacists will truly be able to practice at the top of their licenses and continue to bring value to the health care system.
President, U.S. Pharmaceutical Distribution, Cardinal Health
Director, Medicine Shoppe International Inc.
As we enter 2020 and look beyond at health care trends, Cardinal Health believes community pharmacy solves many of the present and looming challenges facing today’s health care system. Throughout the year, we’ll continue to focus on solutions that reduce the overall cost of patient care while also improving patient outcomes. Although technology will become a pathway for pharmacists to connect and build relationships with their patients, it doesn’t replace the value of personal, face-to-face interactions.
As we face an aging population, which includes aging primary care doctors, there is a tipping point of high demand for health care with fewer primary care physicians. Leveraging local pharmacists to deliver quality care proves to be a cost-effective approach to meeting these needs, especially for patients with chronic health conditions.
Community pharmacists, such as our Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy pharmacists, are uniquely positioned to provide personalized care offerings that reduce negative health outcomes due to medication-related complications. When patients visit their favorite pharmacy, they can get sound clinical counsel, advice on recommended supplements to prevent vitamin deficiency, and efficiency-boosting services like synchronized fills or compliance packaging. For some patients, these clinical consultations and services can earn additional revenue for the pharmacy. In the OutcomesMTM Connect platform, pharmacists can act on payable opportunities to address adherence, resolve drug therapy problems or optimize medication regimens. We also know up to 69% of medication-related hospital admissions can be avoided with better medication adherence, and there is up to $528.4 billion of annual, avoidable health care spending due to misuse or suboptimal use of medications. As medication adherence continues to be a significant barrier to positive patient outcomes, one-on-one consultations and personal interactions are crucial to improving overall health.
In 2019, pharmacy provider status expanded on a state-by-state basis, giving community pharmacists increased opportunities for compensation through the delivery of clinical services. We see this trend continuing to evolve, and Cardinal Health provides solutions that serve to advance clinical opportunities, such as point-of-care testing, making it easier for pharmacies to establish partnerships with physicians, clinics and hospitals, and strengthen relationships with patients. By adding medical billing services to the pharmacy, pharmacists can also bill for Medicare Part B immunizations and bill, track and reconcile their medical claims in real time.
Providing personalized services helps lower health care costs and improve patient outcomes, and community pharmacists become more valuable and more embedded in the overall health care system as a highly accessible resource for patients.
Chief Transformation Officer
Walmart U.S. Health & Wellness
Customer-centricity. That has been a consistent trend until now and will remain a significant trend for 2020 and beyond. Of course, there are other industry forces that will shape our activity and results next year. But, at Walmart, we continue to think on behalf of the customer, who is at the center of everything we do. The question becomes, how can we continue to improve the customer experience, create a frictionless experience and save families time and money so they can live better. This is not just at the pharmacy counter but across the end-to-end pharmacy customer journey and its connection to overall health services delivery.
When the question is discussed in this way, both internal systems and processes, as well as external opportunities, create a great potential to partner in new ways to fill the health care delivery gap. And it requires thinking of pharmacy as a full partner in the health delivery system, able to help close gaps in care and deliver new solutions that aim to solve traditional customer pain points when dealing with the health care system. In most cases, consumer insights help get us closer to breakthrough opportunities that create game-changing results for our customers. As such, bringing the voice of the customer into our innovation process enables us to more effectively create products and services that truly meet customer needs.
For example, we recently launched our Pharmacy of the Future pilot; a new pharmacy model designed from the customer back. Pharmacy of the Future is about building a new health ecosystem architected around state-of-the-art automation, central fill and addition of clinical services. Our aspiration is to become the low-cost, high-touch pharmacy of choice for our customers.
Yes, this reimagined model will deliver on several efficiency and quality metrics, but it also will free up staff time to increase and enhance customer interaction. This ultimately supports our strategy of having pharmacists practicing at the top of their license. Opportunities to more fully serve patients, through higher levels of care, continue to emerge as states look to fill health care delivery gaps by evolving the practice of pharmacy.
Pharmacists practicing at the top of their license means we can respond to those opportunities by offering a wide range of clinical services, such as year-round immunizations, CLIA-waived screenings and rapid diagnostic testing. Our MTM/Adherence program includes adherence outreach, gaps in therapy, targeted and comprehensive medication reviews, medication synchronization, refill reminders and messaging. Our pharmacists prescribe and counsel on Naloxone and are engaged in a comprehensive opioid stewardship program. In specific states, we offer prescriptive services, including hormonal contraceptive prescribing and treatment for minor ailments. We have a full-service specialty pharmacy and offer select specialty products in our retail locations.
We believe our pharmacists are a partner in a customer’s health care journey. Through medication therapy management, medication synchronization and comprehensive counseling our pharmacists work to make sure patients can manage their chronic disease and their medication therapy.
This customer-centric focus is a defining characteristic of Walmart as we help people save money and live better — and healthier — lives. There is tremendous innovation in the company, as proven with our outstanding success with digital offerings like online grocery pickup. When we overlay that onto the pharmacy business it gets compelling, based on our unique ability to combine healthy food, nutrition, lifestyle, medication and health services across our store footprint as well as digitally as our stores serve as a center of well-being in the communities we serve.
Chief Financial Officer
Discount Drug Mart
As we look to 2020, now more than ever the old adage “the only constant is change” aptly describes the state of the retail chain drug industry. Similar to this past year, the most dominant themes in our industry will be the push toward DIR fee reform and the struggle against reimbursement pressures. The Senate Finance Committee continues to push a drug pricing package that includes DIR fee reforms and changes to Managed Medicaid programs that will require a reimbursement floor. All of us in the industry will be monitoring these efforts in the hope that these reforms will lead to more transparency as well as fair and consistent reimbursement levels.
At Discount Drug Mart, we take great pride in the fact that we celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2019.
Throughout our 50 years of serving our customers, our leadership has always been “forward thinking,” a legacy started by our founder Parviz Boodjeh in 1969 and carried on by the strong leadership of his sons and other executives within the company. We also are very proud of the fact that we recently implemented an ESOP. As an employee ownership company, we believe that rewarding our employees in this manner will make them even more incentivized to provide excellent customer service.
As a regional chain, we believe that we have a distinct advantage over our larger rivals in that we are more nimble and can adjust to changing circumstances more quickly. Given the fact that the pace of change seems to increase each year on almost an exponential basis, we believe that we are well positioned to adapt as market forces dictate. In 2020, Discount Drug Mart will continue its pattern of retail store expansion in a gradual, controlled manner. Our home health care subsidiary continues to make positive strides. The fact that we can offer our customers a full line of durable medical equipment products ranging from canes and walkers to oxygen and hospital beds really differentiates us from our competition. Our specialty pharmacy subsidiary, which we established in 2014, continues to demonstrate strong growth and complements our retail pharmacy business very well.
We also plan on ramping up our efforts to open more walk-in clinics in 2020 as an additional service to our customers. These additional services that we can offer to our customers — home health care equipment, specialty pharmacy services and walk-in clinics — are consistent with our concept of 360 Care and reflect our continued commitment to offer one-stop shopping for our customers. We are excited about the synergies that we believe are still untapped between our traditional retail business and our subsidiary companies. Our central-fill facility, which opened in 2018 and currently services about half of our stores, will soon be able to support all of our store locations. Our pharmacy operations group already is at the top of the industry in implementing other revenue-generating services, such as medication therapy management, immunizations and medication synchronization, and our central fill facility will further strengthen us in this area. This will help make our pharmacists more accessible, allowing them to have more time to focus on these programs and better serve our customers.
Chief Retail Officer
The health care consumer is having a huge impact on the way we do business. This reality isn’t just influencing our industry — it’s reverberating across the entire Canadian market.
Canadians haven’t always had positive experiences when interacting with our health care system. Here’s why:
• The fundamentals of the system haven’t evolved much from the days when patients were passive recipients of care. It just hasn’t kept up with innovation in other industries.
• Our system wasn’t designed to meet the modern-day demands of patients, as they look for more value to help shape better health outcomes.
• The consumer is actively changing the face of health care with increased expectations and a demand for a more digital, convenient experience that establishes each patient as a partner in their own care.
I may be new to health care, but I am no stranger to retail. I know we are uniquely positioned in Canada to lead the next evolution of the retail pharmacy landscape. And we have a few key ways we’re going to do it.
In 2020, we’re working on using our diverse, omnichannel assets to provide meaningful solutions. Through investing in e-commerce programs, implementing a robust digital strategy and binding distribution with retail, we’re aiming to bring pharmacy to the patient’s doorstep.
Secondly, leveraging technology that patients already use in their everyday life is a must for the health care industry. It’s a baseline need which the consumer is already expecting. Consumers are trending towards a desire for one patient portal — instead of being pulled to dozens of digital platforms requiring different health profiles. We’re seeing that patients want a single interface where they can receive retail rewards, connect to their health records, order, fill or refill prescriptions and get them delivered to their homes. This is translating to strong growth in the use of our digital assets, such as virtual health and wellness services for patients across our various consumer facing assets.
Finally, patients are also expecting more of their pharmacists as frontline care providers — which means pharmacists are spending less time behind counters. This welcomed transition has been made possible largely due to technological innovation, which has empowered pharmacists to move beyond traditional dispensing roles and allowed them to spend more time providing valuable insight on chronic pain management, medication adherence, health and wellness, and personalized health care services.
In 2020, patients and consumers will continue to heavily disrupt health care. Canadians are relying on a valiant push to make their lives easier, more convenient, more digital and ultimately with better outcomes. We’re intensely focused on leading the way on this exciting journey. We’re excited for the future of retail pharmacy in 2020 and are ready to continue to push the boundaries of disruption as we work to improve care in every setting — one product, one partner, one patient at a time.
In their article “Opportunities and Responsibilities in Pharmaceutical Care,” published 30 years ago, Charles Hepler and Linda Strand presented a plan and a call to action for all pharmacists to “accept their social mandate to ensure the safe and effective drug therapy of the individual patient.” This call to action started the transformation of the pharmacist’s role from one tied solely to accurate product dispensing to a responsibility for patient care. Since that time, pharmacists in all practice settings have worked to transform their practices to meet that call to action and improve patient care and outcomes.
As we move into the new decade, the role of the pharmacist will continue to broaden the reach of patient care to fill in gaps and provide even more value to a health care consumer who will demand quality, convenience and control of the health and wellness journey. The impact that pharmacists will make will start with the patients and caregivers within their practices and expand to opportunities to impact public health. This is especially true for independent community pharmacists, who provide a growing set of valuable services while directly investing in the local communities where their own families live. Receiving access to specialty medications, personalized medication management and consultation services, critical immunizations, convenient point of care testing options and nutrition, wellness, and chronic condition education, delivered by someone who is not only a skilled professional but also a trusted member of a patient’s local community is a perfect match for patient expectations.
Health Mart pharmacy owners choose independent pharmacy practice with similar goals. They are driven to transform the health and wellness journey for their patients and caregivers and dedicated to improving their communities. Their firsthand knowledge of the needs of their communities allows them to leverage all their unique assets to meet these goals. Health Mart supports independent pharmacy owners in their efforts to remain independent and leverage relationships, knowledge and assets while pairing their individual strength with national brand recognition and value-add resources from McKesson solutions.
As small businesses, Health Mart pharmacies are challenged daily to maximize the return on all assets to compete. This begins with ensuring that all members of the pharmacy team are trained and well prepared to perform at the top of their license, credentials or training. A well-trained and efficient team allows pharmacists more time for patient consultation and delivery of value-add services from a growing list of opportunities for enhanced patient care services, clinical education and monitoring, pharmacist prescriptive authority under protocol, collaborative practice or stand-alone authority. Health Mart Atlas, the leading pharmacy services administration organization (PSAO), is also critical for pharmacies navigating the evolving reimbursement landscape. With the right PSAO partner and well-trained staff, patient care improves.
Health Mart pharmacies must also leverage front-end assets to be sure that all pharmacy consumers find the right products and services to meet their needs. These products should offer solutions for patients who are sick, recovering or managing chronic conditions as well as provide convenient options to maintain health and wellness. As a baseline, pharmacies must offer services available at traditional industry competitors, including immunizations, chronic condition support, point-of-care testing, medication therapy management, nutrition support, delivery and other services. To stay competitive, the independent pharmacy must also monitor the nontraditional industry entrants to look for ways to offer differentiating value to keep the consumer engaged locally.
Despite the challenges facing pharmacy, including complex reimbursement issues, a shifting product mix, increased use of technology, and the changing provider landscape fueled by consolidations and new industry entrants, community pharmacies can look forward to new opportunities in the new year. Community pharmacies staffed with the pharmacists, highly trained care providers, are in the perfect position to improve patient quality of life and clinical outcomes of patients and reduce health care costs with convenient and cost-effective solutions for prevention and wellness, medication adherence and condition management.
The time has come for community pharmacies to leverage their role as local health care and diversified service providers to advance practice and impact public health. Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of working side by side with true innovators, dedicated to patient care. I am excited to see our Health Mart pharmacists standing strong and continuing to prioritize their patients, creatively future-proofing their practices and growing their businesses. Most of all, I look forward to seeing what we accomplish together in 2020 and beyond.
Executive Vice President and Group President
In 2019, we experienced a significant push for more transparency across health care and the pharmaceutical supply chain. As we head into 2020 and beyond, transparency will continue to be a priority, but we also need to address real access challenges impacting patients.
Improving access to pharmaceutical therapies is an integral part of our daily efforts as a leading distribution partner. Distributors do much more than simply transport products from point A to point B — we create efficiencies that consistently take cost out of the health care system. In fact, over the last decade, distributors have increased the total number of prescriptions handled from 3.1 billion to 4.1 billion while simultaneously reducing the cost to distribute by nearly 40%.
We work across the entire health care supply chain, and that affords us the ability to forge strong relationships, from our manufacturer partners to locally owned independent community pharmacies. And we can leverage these connections to support programs that improve access and quality patient care.
We are also looking ahead and planning for trends that have the potential to shape the health care industry and patient access moving forward — things like public policy changes, consolidation, emerging technologies and nontraditional competitors entering the health care supply chain. We will continue to roll up our sleeves and work with our partners to meet the needs of the evolving market.
As an example, this past year AmerisourceBergen put forth a recommendation for how we could help facilitate the transfer of manufacturer rebate dollars to point-of-sale discounts to patients at the pharmacy counter. This was in response to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Notice of Proposed Rule Making regarding the Removal of Safe Harbor Protection for Rebates Involving Prescription Pharmaceuticals. The notice from HHS was one proposal that aimed to support lower out-of-pocket costs for patients and improve transparency in the cost of pharmaceuticals at the pharmacy counter. While HHS’ Rebate Rule was ultimately dropped by the administration, AmerisourceBergen was proud to propose a potential solution.
In addition to adapting to trends, reimbursement pressures will force pharmacies to change even more, and distributors will need to evolve alongside them. To help our pharmacy customers succeed in 2020 and prepare them for the future, we will continue to serve as reliable advocates on Capitol Hill. We understand the biggest issues facing pharmacies today, and that’s why we consistently push for key legislation that will lead to increased transparency and fair reimbursement moving forward.
At AmerisourceBergen, we are always thinking about partnership and asking ourselves: How can the many players within the supply chain work together to overcome patient affordability and access challenges? We need to put the negotiating pencils down for a while and start over with the patient in mind, first and foremost. It is our collective responsibility to work together to create innovative solutions that manage costs, enhance patient access and increase efficiency throughout the supply chain.
Chief Executive Officer
Improving access to behavioral health care is a critical and growing need across the United States. Genoa Healthcare, the national leader in behavioral health pharmacy, telepsychiatry and medication management services, is on the front lines of providing care to consumers with serious and persistent mental illness; substance use disorders; and other complex, chronic conditions.
In 2019, Genoa Healthcare reached several important milestones that significantly improved mental health care access for our patients. We continued to expand our local footprint to reach individuals in the communities where they live, work and receive their care, opening our 500th pharmacy in the U.S. We doubled the reach of our telepsychiatry programs, enabling us to provide critical services to patients who otherwise might not have access, particularly in rural areas where provider resources are scarce. And finally, we focused on delivering exceptional service and care to nearly 1 million people across the country, including 47 states and the District of Columbia, hitting a record high customer satisfaction rating and a net promoter score of 88.
As we enter 2020, and as I step into the role of chief executive officer, Genoa is poised to build on this momentum.
Our pharmacies are primarily located on-site within community mental health centers, delivering specialized, high-touch pharmacy care to consumers with challenging health conditions. As behavioral health care providers wrestle to adapt to the changing environment of reimbursements based on the health outcomes rather than volume, on-site Genoa pharmacies can help them demonstrate value. Our innovative tools and strategies were developed to help our consumers stick to complex medication regimens, leading to better health outcomes. In fact, a peer-reviewed study showed our pharmacies deliver higher-than-average medication adherence rates of 90%, and significantly reduce the rates of emergency room visits and hospitalization among the people we serve.
In addition to increasing access to specialized pharmacy care, we are also helping fill gaps in psychiatric care in rural and other communities through our Genoa Healthcare Telepsychiatry division. There is a well-documented shortage of psychiatrists across the country, particularly in rural areas, as practitioners retire faster than students graduate. Meanwhile, the number of people seeking treatment for mental illness and opioid use disorder is increasing, leaving a gap between the number of available providers and patients needing care. Our telepsychiatry division, which builds programs that allow psychiatry providers to deliver care remotely, last year grew to 450 psychiatrists and advanced practice registered nurses, who had more than 250,000 patient encounters. In 2020, we anticipate we will continue expanding our footprints in community mental health centers and other health care settings.
The third part of our company, our Medication Management Solutions (MMS) division, provides comprehensive medication management services to members of health plans with high-risk health issues. Our MMS pharmacists help individuals resolve drug therapy problems, which reduces health care costs and improves health outcomes. We continue to build out new comprehensive medication management services programs, including a new program that specifically focuses on behavioral health.
As we look ahead, we will continue to focus on what Genoa Healthcare does best: Providing exemplary service to our consumers and being a thoughtful and collaborative partner to the providers and payers with whom we work.
President and Chairman
The recently released draft legislation around Medicare Part D Quality Measures and DIR reform, as well as addressing general reimbursement issues and establishing a floor for reimbursement for Managed Medicaid, is a positive sign for retail pharmacy. Unfortunately this reform, if passed, will not provide relief in 2020.
The outlook for 2020 will continue to be difficult. While consolidation and store closings present some opportunities for retail pharmacies in certain areas, many of the closures are occurring in areas where reimbursement is very poor due to Managed Medicaid rates.
Pharmacies are being asked to do more with less resources, and we are seeing pharmacies adjust store hours and staffing levels to remain viable. Reimbursement issues must be addressed to ensure that pharmacies are receiving a fair ingredient cost and a reasonable professional dispensing fee. Receiving quality incentives must be in addition to a fair reimbursement.
Regional chains have always been at the heart of personal health care in their communities. Fruth and other regional chains will continue to evolve to meet the needs of the community and to diversify into other opportunities to remain viable. With a very loyal customer base, Fruth serves a large percentage of patients in their local communities. In order to provide even more service, Fruth now has Retail Clinics in a third of our locations. This provides a much needed point of care in rural communities, and the clinics are operated by local clinic and hospital partners.
Fruth will continue to expand into nontraditional settings, such as drop-in stores in other retailers, mental health practices and FQHC locations. The future is challenging, but Fruth Pharmacy stands ready to meet that challenge.
Pharmasave Drugs National
Community pharmacy in Canada continues to be affected by regulatory pressures. Pharmasave is committed to and actively engaged in advancing the pharmacy profession in partnership with industry stakeholders. Canada’s health care delivery system should focus on ensuring that the best possible patient outcomes are achieved through cost-effective community health care provision, ensuring sustainable dispensary operations and the availability of a complete range of patient care services. Pharmasave supports our pharmacy teams in embracing the changes in the profession and providing them with the tools they need to leverage our unique positioning as the most accessible health care professionals.
Consumers are taking more ownership of their personal health, and this trend shows no sign of reversing. The interest and adoption are broad, ranging from personal monitoring devices and wearable technology to engaging in lifestyle coaching. Pharmasave is responding with a wide range of innovative services and solutions, including health improvement programs; chronic disease prevention and management; medication optimization and synchronization; diabetes risk assessment and prevention; travel health and vaccination services; smoking cessation; and many more. We focus on one-on-one health discussions with patients to provide proactive health care, helping motivate patients to take charge of their health. Additionally, each Pharmasave store serves its individual community, tailoring programs and services to the unique needs of customers to help them live well.
The incidence of opioid-related drug overdose deaths nationally is a public health emergency. In response to the opioid epidemic, non-opioid pain management methods will continue to become more prevalent. Pharmasave pharmacists are available to review patients’ opioid medications and discuss how to best manage them in order to minimize harm while optimizing pain management and, if appropriate, help patients gradually taper off use when no longer needed or if switching to other non-opioid therapy. Our pharmacists are available to dispense and witness daily oral therapy to help manage a patient’s opioid dependency, improving their overall quality of life. Addiction and improper opioid use can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender or race, and we encourage those at risk and those with loved ones at risk to speak with our pharmacists about an opioid drug overdose rescue kit containing Naloxone. Any unused or expired medications, especially opioids and narcotics, can be dropped off at a Pharmasave pharmacy for safe disposal.
An exciting research partnership between Pharmasave and the University of British Columbia is a study to determine if a therapeutic carbohydrate-restricted nutrition program can reduce the need for glucose-lowering medications. Patients with diabetes taking glucose-lowering medications are monitored closely by their Pharmasave pharmacist, who plays a critical role in monitoring medications and collaborates within a patient’s circle of care to adjust dosages and deprescribe or even eliminate medications that may no longer be needed. Early review of data shows promise that this nutritional approach could bring positive results in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Final study results are expected later this year.
One in four Canadians is a caregiver, and the contributions they make are invaluable. Pharmasave is embracing technology solutions to make their lives easier. The eCare@Pharmasave app enables customers to digitally engage with their pharmacy and empowers them with convenient mobile refills and medication reminders. The app also allows caregivers to view prescription profiles for multiple dependents and request refills for any connected dependents. One dependent can also have multiple caregivers who are part of their circle of care. The caregiver feature is also available on Pharmasave.com with an eCare@Pharmasave account.
Pharmasave continues to experience robust growth and now has more than 700 independently owned locations across the country. Our strengths ensure the long-term success of our national platform of community pharmacies. Pharmasave provides members with the most complete programs, services and support available to independent pharmacists. Personalized, relationship-based care, in-store and online, differentiates our pharmacies and is at the core of our strategy. The enduring strength of Pharmasave’s trusted national brand and the resilient, entrepreneurial spirit of community-centered store teams keep us well positioned as Canada’s best community pharmacy.
Senior Vice President, Connected Care and Commercial Technologies
Cardinal Health understands patients are increasingly interested in gaining insight into their health care costs as deductibles and co-payments continue to rise. It is much more difficult to be planful when patients are unable to know the price of a much needed medication until a pharmacist has filled the prescription. Patients’ growing interest in driving their own health care experience is also influencing the way providers connect with patients, encouraging the advancement and use of technology in the delivery of health care.
These trends require pharmacists to consider new ways to meet patients where and when they want to engage to generate optimal health outcomes. Technology and services such as patient-facing apps, teleconferencing, remote prescription verification and texting, combined with the personal touch offered at the pharmacy, are just a few of the ways that pharmacists are paving a new path to patient care.
Pharmacists are also expanding their scope of practice to include clinical offerings. They recognize that meaningful dialogue with patients and collaboration between manufacturers, payers, prescribers, pharmacists and the patient is key to reducing the costs of care and improving medical outcomes. As pharmacists expand their services and utilize technology to connect with patients, technology acts as a key driver in solving the connectivity gap. Previously, there have been breakdowns along the chain of communication, resulting in a lack of coordination of care.
Pharmacists have access to information that is valuable for stakeholders across the entire health care continuum, which is instrumental in providing patients with great care and achieving positive health outcomes. Because pharmacists serve as a primary point of contact for patients, they are in position to provide real-time feedback that manufacturers can use to understand the performance of a particular drug. Payers also benefit from pharmacist experience demonstrating the results of medication adherence, which can positively impact overall health care costs.
Although new opportunities for pharmacists present themselves, the pharmacy may lack the technology infrastructure to enable greater involvement in clinical patient care. At Cardinal Health, we’re doubling down on technology to proactively support a seamless transfer of information and create a cohesive web of care. We see an opportunity for data that can be used by different members of a patient’s health care team to tailor care for improved outcomes. By providing pharmacists with the digital tools to gather the right information, we can create a comprehensive view of the patient that provides clinical insights, enables optimal patient outcomes and drives new business opportunities.
Founder and President
Senderra Specialty Pharmacy
The pharmacy landscape for 2020 poses several interesting trends. One notable market development is the proclivity of payers utilizing data as a means to monitor and measure patient outcomes. Widespread use of electronic medical records will give payers the information they need to insist on outcomes-based pricing. Movement towards outcomes-based models will necessitate the blending of outcomes data with performance and positive patient experience metrics. This will require pharmacies not only to be equipped with the right technology to capture and report clinically relevant patient metrics, but also to have the capability to correlate the outcomes to contractual performance. Until standardized patient outcome metrics are adopted industrywide, payers determine what data sets are to be evaluated as part of the outcomes-based model. The challenge here is pharmacies will need a platform flexible enough to individualize and report patient outcomes required by each individual payer.
For over a decade, Senderra has been a pioneer in using technology to streamline pharmacy processes and realize better patient outcomes. We have developed a flexible and efficient patient management platform that is easily programmable to capture and report critical patient metrics and outcomes. Our platform is nimble enough to provide customizable reporting required by payers and easily interfaced to deliver real-time results. Data will continue to be the catalyst for change, and Senderra is positioned to meet those challenges.
Another escalating trend is the growing number of Integrated Health System (IHS)-owned specialty pharmacies. As IHS specialty pharmacy numbers continue to increase, they will no doubt have to traverse the different pressures and challenges of operating and billing under the pharmacy benefit.
IHS specialty pharmacies have to first navigate the weighted decision to buy or build a platform to establish a solid technological infrastructure. Specialty pharmacy platforms require flexibility to govern and integrate drug purchasing and dispensing, and they must also have the ability to manage difficult and complex chronic disease states. IHS specialty pharmacies need the capability to document all aspects of the patient’s therapy journey from intake to prescription fulfillment within their patient management platform. Data collection and reporting are key requirements to payer agreements that IHS specialty pharmacy platforms must have the capacity to provide. Successful specialty medication management requires not only a robust patient management platform but also properly trained clinical staff and personnel to monitor patient therapy goals and outcomes. Any patient adherence or therapy efficacy concerns are to be communicated with the entire treatment team in a timely manner.
In addition to technology decisions, and specialized clinical staff, IHS specialty pharmacies have the challenge of gaining access to payer networks and obtaining and maintaining the necessary accreditations required by payer networks. IHS specialty pharmacies may fill the patient’s prescription under the medical benefit during the patient’s hospital stay; however, they may not have the payer network access to fill the patient’s refills under the prescription benefit. Even if the IHS specialty pharmacy is a participating provider on the payer’s pharmacy network, patients that reside across state lines or college students attending school in other states necessitate multiple state licenses to fill their prescriptions.
IHS specialty pharmacies do not have to allay all these issues alone. For many years, independent specialty pharmacies have mitigated many of these obstacles in the specialty pharmacy space, and they can be a valuable partner to IHS specialty pharmacies by offsetting some of the services required by specialty medication management. As an independent specialty pharmacy licensed in all 50 states, Senderra has the experience and know-how to collaborate with IHS specialty pharmacies in providing a suite of high-touch services to patients as a wrap-around solution.
Senderra’s hallmark is to capitalize on technology. Our forecast for the coming year will be to keep improving efficiencies and explore areas where we can collaborate with industry partners. Senderra has grown year over year, and that momentum will continue in 2020.
Good Neighbor Pharmacy
At Good Neighbor Pharmacy and AmerisourceBergen, we’re optimistic about the future of pharmacy and see 2020 as a pivotal year for this industry. As the reimbursement environment continues to intensify, the impact on the pharmacy segment as a whole continues to become more apparent. Across both retail chains and independent community pharmacies, we’ve seen the lack of reimbursement transparency, DIR fees and preferred networks impact bottom lines and lead to store closures.
Pharmacies are developing new solutions beyond dispensing in order to grow and stay viable in the tough reimbursement environment. Over the years, we have witnessed progress in the expansion of independent pharmacy services. In fact, the 2019 NCPA Digest found that independents are offering an array of services including medication adherence programs (91% of pharmacies), medication synchronization services (nearly 79%) and medication therapy management (77%), and 76% provide flu immunizations. Looking ahead to 2020, independent community pharmacies will need to go a step further and connect the dots between their specialized services and the specific needs of their communities.
For example, in Salt Lake City, one Good Neighbor Pharmacy, The Apothecary Shoppe, is committed to providing care to thousands of HIV patients in its local area. By working with the local HIV community, the pharmacy’s owner knows that these patients require very specific support and face a number of potential barriers to care — ranging from complex medication regimens to high medication costs and adherence challenges. The pharmacy has created a niche, building specialized programs to meet the specific needs of this patient population, including medication management services, medication delivery and educational programs.
Offering additional patient care programs will no longer be solely an added value, but a necessity for patients. The United States will see a shortage of as many as 122,000 physicians by 2032, according to new data published by the Association of American Medical Colleges. This is leaving a considerable gap in care for patients, particularly in rural areas. At the same time, independent community pharmacies are one of the most accessible forms of health care, based on their proximity to the patient. In fact, according to the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, a complex patient sees a pharmacist 10 times more often than a medical provider, on average. Pharmacies are well positioned to fill gaps in care by expanding their offerings through adherence programs, clinical services such as immunizations, and other technologies.
There is also a push for independents to meet patients and consumers where they are, specifically on social media and through digital tools like mobile apps. According to the NCPA Digest, 90% of independent pharmacies have a Facebook presence. Social media has expanded the reach of independent community pharmacies, enabling them to connect directly with patients or promote their services to new, potential patients. Heading into the new year, independent pharmacy owners will need to be able to leverage their presence across social media and digital platforms to communicate the value of the differentiated services and support they offer to their communities.
Lastly, a significant pain point for pharmacists has been insufficient and ineffective data transfer among health care providers. In 2020, I think we will see some big plays in supporting data connectivity between providers and the pharmacy, such as the use of pharmacist e-care plans within care teams. Ultimately, that connectivity will enable pharmacists to play a larger role in supporting patients holistically and as a critical part of the care team overall.
General Manager, Pharmacy
National Pharmacare, over 2,000 drugs listed on Health Canada’s drug shortage website, and NDMA-tainted drugs. More than ever, these issues are calling pharmacists to action. We need to use our knowledge and expertise to help patients navigate the complexities of the health care system. London Drugs pharmacists and pharmacy staff are well positioned to ensure patients are taken care of.
Patients continue to benefit from our private counseling rooms where they can sit down with certified pharmacists who can help explain their diagnosis, develop a health care plan and help monitor their progress. We are looking to partner with a certified laboratory to provide several point-of-care tests that can be administered by a pharmacist and subsequently verified by the lab. With this information, we will work with the patient’s family physician to monitor their disease progression to determine whether the therapy is working or not. If not, our pharmacists will help adjust therapy or suggest changes.
Virtual care will become part of the patient’s care. It is getting increasingly difficult to find a family physician and even more difficult to see a family physician for acute diagnosis of a minor ailment such as strep throat without having to wait an extended period of time in a walk-in clinic or urgent care centers. We are looking into a few partnerships where we could offer virtual care with a physician in our private counseling rooms when doctors’ offices are closed late evening and/or weekends. This will enable our patients access to the health care they need, on demand.
Our pharmacy app is in full swing. This gives more control to patients for their own health. It allows patients direct access to their medications so they can see exactly what they are taking as well as a description of what it is used for. The app will also help with compliance via push notification when their refills are due in seven days. If the patient accepts the medication to be refilled, they will have the option to pick up in-store or deliver direct to their home. If the patient wants to pick up in-store, and it is a chronic medication that needs no further in-person interaction, they will be able to pick up their medication from a secure locker that will have a unique code sent via text when they arrive. This will allow the patient to bypass the lineup of others waiting for a pharmacist consult, while also allowing them to pick up their healthy snack on the way out of the store.
At London Drugs, we are using our expertise to help guide our patients to ensure they are receiving optimal therapy and achieving their therapeutic goals. We will continue to invest in our people to ensure they are equipped with the most up-to-date knowledge and provide automation that will make it easier for patients to get their medications quickly and conveniently. Our patients’ trust in our services is what drives us to be better.
President and CEO
Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy
In 2020 we will continue to focus on our rapidly growing compounding and specialty businesses. To meet the new USP <800> guidelines, we have built two compounding centers that are equipped with specialized state-of-the-art equipment, high-tech software and enhanced computer systems that enable us to compound each medication to the prescriber’s exact specifications. We have added salespeople in key markets to promote and service these businesses. We also are focused on deepening our relationship with our patients and adding additional services that not only help them focus on their family’s wellness but help make their health care as convenient as possible. Our partnership with FedEx for same-day prescription and store item delivery has been very successful, and we look forward to seeing that service continue to grow exponentially.
Next year we will focus on growing same-store retail sales through a variety of unique promotions and events. We have seen significant year-over-year growth through these promotions, and look forward to finding new and innovative ways to bring customers to the store. One of our core goals is to be our vendors’ first choice to work with to test and implement their ideas alongside our innovations. We have nearly doubled our vendor support and participation in the past three years, and we strive to be the easiest and most productive partner in our markets.
In 2019 one of those innovations was the introduction of both ingestible and topical CBD and hemp oil products. These products have proven very popular with customers and are a perfect complement to the rest of our holistic health selection. The products come from both trusted brands and new players in the natural health space.
Our e-commerce business also continues to grow dramatically through our expansion of paid search, advertising through social media, email marketing and search engine optimization. Through these mediums we hope to be able to reach a bigger target market that is interested in the natural health and beauty products we offer. We have found that the Pharmaca brand resonates strongly even in geographies where we do not have retail locations, as more than half of our e-commerce sales come from locations more than 25 miles away from our nearest store.
As part of our ongoing mission to be our customer’s trusted source for products, we will be seeking out new brands serving the needs of our customers, including natural supplement and beauty lines that match this mission of providing only the highest-quality product selection. We look forward to continued growth and seeking out new locations to expand our brick-and-mortar presence in both existing markets and beyond. To that end we will be opening a new store in the Lincoln Common development in Chicago in January 2020.
On a final note, I believe that DIR fees are devastating the independent pharmacist. We as an industry are not doing enough to reduce these fees and bring some rationale to how and when they are being forced on our pharmacies. This is an immediate problem; discussion about changes in 2022 will be too late. We have all seen the forecasts that project a third to a half of all independent pharmacies will be forced out of business if nothing is done until 2022. We need to act together now or the livelihoods of thousands of independent pharmacies will be lost and the independent pharmacist will be a thing of the past. That cannot be our legacy.
Chief Executive Officer
2020 will be a defining year for retail, specialty and community pharmacy. The industry has experienced significant growth in recent years, attributed to the introduction of many new specialty drugs, as well as an increasing number of consumers taking on a greater role in the management of their own health care needs. This trend has largely favored organized providers who have figured out how to offer high-quality drugs and an efficient way to manage patients to better outcomes. The rise of e-commerce, the changing wholesaler and payer models, and heightened customer expectations are adding to the complexity of trying to figure out how to stay relevant in the markets that providers currently operate in today. It is also likely that there will be new developments worthy of additional consideration, as the issue of increasing health care costs takes political center stage in the run-up to the next presidential election.
As all of these changes continue to take shape, pharmacies will continue to wrestle with how best to navigate the dynamic terrain of pharmacy reimbursement while waiting to be compensated for the ancillary value-added services that they will be motivated to provide as they seek a pathway to better outcomes and higher quality ratings. Congruently, pharmacies will also have to contend with a changing wholesaler and specialty pharmaceutical distributor pricing model that has yet to sort itself out. At a time when providers will seek relief from the pain of declining reimbursement with new procurement efficiencies, those opportunities will be harder and harder to identify and capitalize upon. Adding fuel to this fire will be providers’ escalating need to have better access to new drugs, new therapies and new patients. Limited-distribution drugs as well as a multitude of new multisource drugs and touting better therapeutic interchangeability and higher cost savings for patients will have economic consequences which will need to be considered by wholesalers and providers alike.
Retailers will invariably have to seek new ways to remain relevant in a largely integrated industry by attempting to create and deliver new and unique value. Proper expense management, better maintenance of cash flow, and redefining core competencies will be the keys to remaining stable and sustainable in a hyper-competitive retail environment. In keeping with these principles will be identifying new potential partnerships which allow for better connectivity with local providers and businesses with the hope of additional revenue and expanded clinical services. Deciding which networks you should participate in will get harder as the fundamental question of access versus profitability gets weighed; additionally, evaluating your e-commerce and online strategies will become a major priority for retailers as they balance the ease and convenience of online shopping with the need to give consumers a reason to visit their brick-and-mortar locations. All of these variables must be weighed appropriately in order to navigate through the changing landscape of health care in a meaningful way.
At CARE Pharmacies we see these challenges as an opportunity to reevaluate the value that we deliver to our members and our customers, ensuring that we remain competitive in a highly contentious and transitioning marketplace. Our unique operating model allows us to realize the operational efficiencies of a drug chain while delivering the best personal and deliberate clinical care that is inherent to community-basevd pharmacy. Our established relationships with local physicians, prescribers, manufacturers, wholesalers and other drug chain partners should sustain us in the near term and position us favorably in the future as the new procurement and fee for service models take hold.
Calvin LeRoux, Grady Brown
The strength of our organization lies within the relationship our member pharmacies (both PharmaChoice and RxHealthMed) have with their customers/patients. We have a strong focus to add tools to further this relationship to gain new customers and make our current customers even more loyal to our products and services. Our footprint in Canada is large, covering nine provinces from coast to coast and, as such, our products and services need to be adaptable to various markets (urban, rural, French, English, specialty pharma, large format and small format).
For the coming year, we have a focus on increasing our share in the specialty pharmacy business with new initiatives. Our performance on same-store, regular brand Rx is better than market, reflecting our ability to hold and grow our prescription base, and we expect that to continue. But we are still adjusting to impacts of generic price reform and exploring ways to mitigate these impacts. Supply on generic drugs has been a big challenge for the entire industry, and we are able to make some improvements through better forecasting.
We continue to support our member pharmacies on med synchronization to enable our pharmacists to provide higher-level total health consultation for patients. We also adopted a telemedicine program to support patients without family doctors. As member pharmacies deal with additional burdens from regulators, it is critically important to manage dispensary workflows.
Our vendor relations team has fostered very positive support with our suppliers, as we have not only grown our network of pharmacies but also our same-store volume. We continue to provide unique and loyal promotions that really gain traction with our customers. We have added new front-of-store product lines to entice more customers. Our private label brand has been doing exceptionally well, and we are adding more products to the line. Our member pharmacies have taken the leadership to promote the concept for our private label of More For Less with their customers. We expect to build on this in an even bigger way in the coming year.
From a marketing perspective, we continue to improve how we communicate to our customers and conquer new customers. We understand that we need to connect with new customers in their preferred digital formats and embrace most avenues to make this connection. We continue to enhance our loyalty program with both aggressive and interesting offers. Our overall marketing package allows any member in our system to meet or exceed the needs for all patients and customers.
And lastly, we do expect to add another 50 to 75 locations to our network in the coming 12 months. We know that our value proposition for independent pharmacy is best in the industry, which drives our growth. Our momentum has been strong, and it will continue as we consolidate more pharmacies under our umbrella.
Vice President of Pharmacy, Health and Beauty
Wakefern Food Corp.
ShopRite continues to help make medication management easy and convenient. We refreshed our ShopRite RX App this year to streamline the process and make it even easier to navigate the site and create family accounts to manage prescriptions. The mobile app allows customers to view their prescription profile, access drug information, find ShopRite pharmacies, transfer prescriptions, and quickly order refills for multiple prescriptions at once. The app also sends push notifications as soon as prescriptions are ready for pickup.
Our ShopRite Pharmacy app is just one part of a comprehensive approach to helping customers achieve better health outcomes. We offer vaccinations and disease state management at our pharmacies, and ShopRite dietitians in many of our stores often consult with our pharmacists to approach a customer’s health and wellness goals more holistically.
There has been a significant shift toward high-deductible insurance plans in recent years. Customers are faced with large out-of-pocket burdens and it is changing the expectations at the pharmacy counter. That’s why we believe it’s important to offer preventative services and the best customer service and retail experience at our pharmacies.
It’s also the reason we continue to lobby to reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients and defend the viability of pharmacies. We advocate enhancing patient access to health care by expanding the services we can offer at the pharmacy. When we expand the scope of our services, we improve the quality of care to the thousands of communities we serve. Among our priorities is the continued pursuit of direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fee relief, and other pharmacy reimbursement issues.
In addition to offering vaccinations, medication profiles and working with physicians and dietitians to help patients achieve their health goals, our pharmacists also play an important role in serving the health needs of their communities. Our pharmacists are partnering with other experts in the medical and educational fields in the fight against the opioid addiction crisis affecting so many communities. ShopRite is currently sponsoring educational programs in high schools and, when possible, partnering with local governments to get free Naloxone to the people who need it the most.
We look forward in 2020 to once again protecting patient access to pharmacy care and to health care in general. Pharmacists are a key part of the health care system and play a vital role in health care management in the community today. It’s exciting to see how pharmacy as a major health and wellness resource continues to evolve in our stores.
President and CEO
Lewis is approaching 2020 cautiously optimistic. The Trump economy is good, and Lewis expects to have conservative sales growth in our pharmacy business and front end.
The farmers have struggled with crops due to the weather and the expected flooding that will affect the spring planting again in 2020.
This could somewhat dampen sales for the second half of the year.
We are expecting moderate sales growth in our summer seasonal categories including flowers, pottery, landscaping and outdoor living. We continue to see growth in the outdoor leisure categories that include, grilling, firepits and patio furniture. People are spending more time in their backyards entertaining and relaxing.
Founder and CEO
The conventional pharmacy experience is familiarly frustrating with long wait times, persistent out-of-stocks, lack of price transparency, and the inability to access helpful, personalized advice privately. Across all aspects of retail, consumers demand modern, seamless experiences. Today, the retail pharmacy market is one of the least penetrated digitally, only 1% to 1.5% online, though it is shifting rapidly. In 2020, we expect market share to continue to aggressively shift to modern, mobile-first pharmacy experiences, such as the one Capsule has pioneered.
Within health care, consolidation between insurers and pharmacy benefit managers enables for the first time a true focus on better managing an individual’s entire health care journey to drive better health outcomes and reduce the total cost of care through smarter investments in preventative measures, such as retail drugs.
In 2020, we will see an increased focus on outcomes across the industry. Pharmacies and technology solutions delivering frictionless consumer experiences, better adherence and stronger health outcomes will become the partner of choice for all stakeholders across the health ecosystem.”