Convenience is pillar of drug chain's retail health care strategy
Launched during the drug chain’s fiscal first quarter, OneTripRefills enables patients who enroll to receive all of their monthly maintenance medications in a single trip to the pharmacy. Under the free service, Rite Aid pharmacists work with patients to coordinate all of their refill dates so their scripts are available for pickup on the same day.
In a conference call Thursday on Rite Aid’s quarterly results, president and chief operating officer Ken Martindale said the new service makes the retailer’s pharmacy experience even more convenient.
“The program has been well-received by our patients and, when combined with our existing service to send alerts via text message e-mail or phone when a prescription is ready to be picked up, it creates a more patient-friendly experience for our Rite Aid customers,” Martindale said.
That has already been a core focus at Rite Aid as the chain pushes ahead with the rollout of its Wellness Store format, which provides expanded pharmacy and clinical services, more wellness-focused offerings a more engaging store layout that’s easier for customers to navigate, and a higher level of service through more than 2,000 Wellness Ambassadors.
“By the end of the quarter, we had a grand total of 1,741 Wellness Stores, which represents 38% of our chain. These stores continue to outperform the rest of the chain in terms of same-store front-end sales and script count,” Martindale said. “Our plan for the fiscal year is to remodel a total of 400 stores to the Wellness format as part of a broader real estate strategy that also includes 33 store relocations and 11 net new stores.”
Meanwhile, Rite Aid aims to add RediClinic retail health clinics to more of its stores, he said. In the quarter, the chain opened RediClinics in select stores in Seattle and announced a joint venture with Multicare Health System to support those locations. Currently, there are 30 RediClinics operating inside Rite Aid stores in the greater Seattle, Philadelphia and Baltimore/Washington, D.C. areas.
“We plan to open a total of 50 clinics throughout fiscal 2016, including additional locations in Texas, where RediClinic is already a leading provider of convenient care clinics services,” Martindale said. “This would bring our total number of operating clinics to over 100.”
Immunizations, too, remain a linchpin of Rite Aid’s retail health care strategy, according to Martindale.
“Our highly successful immunization program continues to be a point of emphasis as our teams again prepare for another upcoming flu season by engaging with community organizations and businesses for potential flu shot clinics,” he said. “We’re also promoting our full offering of immunizations and leveraging our new Vaccine Central tool to raise awareness about the importance of vaccinations. In addition, we continue to be a convenient immunization destination for communities dealing with situations like the recent outbreak of pertussis in Washington state.”
Along with expanding its health care services, the company is augmenting its prescription market share via prescription file purchases from other pharmacies, Martindale added.
“We continue to make important strategic investments to drive both short and long-term growth, and one of our more successful efforts has been our prescription file buy program,” he said. “In the first quarter, we completed $14.3 million in file buys, which continue to make positive contributions to our script count. We have allocated $100 million for file buys in fiscal 2016 and have the flexibility to increase that allocation based on market conditions.”