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Ritzman adds specialty Rx capabilities to arsenal

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WADSWORTH, Ohio — With the launch of specialty pharmacy services, Ritzman Pharmacies had one of its most successful years in 2014.

“We are able to care for patients within the communities we serve that have their specialty medication needs, and able to help some of them financially to offset their out-of-pocket costs,” says chief executive officer Eric Graf. “The business overall has grown tremendously and continues to grow month over month.”

Ritzman store_Wadsworth_featuredThis year promises more excitement as Ritzman launches a new brand and look. At the same time, it is working hard to remove operational burdens from associates so that they can spend as much time as possible serving patients and communities. “We are excited to launch more services and programs that will help our communities with their overall wellness and active living and simplify the prescription services we currently offer,” says Graf.

A key strategy for 2015 is delivering services that improve patient outcomes. Higher average patient refill rates lead to better compliance, so the company is expanding that service in 2015. Ritzman is also launching a service that will help increase adherence in an effort to improve overall wellness.

Med-Dose has been one of the fastest-growing segments of the business. It is a high-touch service that provides care for patients who need assistance organizing and simplifying their medications. For 2015 the chain is refreshing the service and expanding it to integrate it with its Med-Sync program.

Ritzman is also working actively to engage all associates in the medication therapy management process. It has identified a central team of pharmacists and technicians who work to carry out many of the administrative tasks involved in the completion of MTM, including identification of services for particular patients, scheduling of comprehensive medication reviews (CMRs), and medication reconciliation between the pharmacy system and MTM platforms. This central team then sets the stage for pharmacists to have meaningful, face-to-face interactions with patients within the daily pharmacy routine.

“Having the central team and technicians support tasks within the MTM process that do not require direct pharmacist intervention removed what many consider to be the burden of MTM, which then frees the pharmacist to have time to dedicate to the more clinical patient and physician interactions associated with MTM,” says chief operating officer George Glatcz.

Ritzman pharmacist customer

Pharmacist Jerry Ritzman explains a Ritzman brand supplement to a customer.

Medication synchronization also plays an important part in enabling a shared team approach with MTM, since Ritzman is able to proactively plan daily work flow. “As patients are more adherent to their therapies, their outcomes improve and more time can be spent interacting, providing preventive health solutions such as immunizations, and answering patients’ questions when they come to pick up their synced prescriptions,” adds Glatcz.

“To truly engage all associates in the MTM process, the responsibilities must be shared as a team so that the process does not feel like a burden, but instead a service that sets pharmacy apart within the health care community.”

In the front end, the chain offers the high-quality Ritzman brand line of supplements. Private label supplement sales are consistently strong in stores, and the company is in the process of developing a more robust online presence.

“As we launch a new brand and look, we are working on developing new product packaging and labels,” says Graf. “We are also refreshing our product mix with new natural health products and hard-to-find locally made items.

“Safety and quality are very important to us, and given the recent media coverage about supplement safety, we let our customers and associates know that our private label supplements were not impacted by the published study [from the New York attorney general’s office, showing that only 21% of tests of herbal supplements confirmed DNA barcodes from the plant species listed on the labels].”

Nexgen Pharma, the manufacturer of Ritzman supplements, says in a statement, “Our products are manufactured under strict quality systems that ensure label claims are met. As required by cGMPs [current good manufacturing practices], the identity of 100% of all raw materials used in manufacturing our dietary supplements is confirmed using established methods, including Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) and thin layer chromatography (TLC), and … subcomponents of these materials are tested as appropriate. The purity of each raw material is verified by testing for gluten, pesticides, heavy metals and microbial content.

“Additionally, our extensive vendor qualification desktop audit program requires that each vendor demonstrates compliance to key quality requirements prior to purchasing new raw materials. These new materials are prequalified before a raw material can be purchased and fully tested by Nexgen Pharma to confirm the identity and purity of the raw materials.”

Meanwhile, Ritzman’s partnership with Buehler’s Food Markets Inc. has been very positive. “We continue to see growth in the grocery locations and are working on ways to integrate and codevelop more programs in the future,” notes Graf.

This past fall the retailer celebrated 25 years of managing Summa’s Home Infusion services. “It is a strong and beneficial relationship for both partners and the patients we serve,” Graf says.

He lauds Ritzman’s “talented and dedicated staff, which includes our corporate leadership team, board of directors, pharmacists and associates. Their commitment to service has been, and will continue to be, the cornerstone on which our future is built.”


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