To cultivate their role as health care providers, community pharmacists must provide value to patients beyond the clinical benefits of the medicine they've been prescribed, according to Chuck Wilson, vice president of pharmacy operations for Health Mart.


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Retail News Breaks Archives

Health Mart takes patient-centric approach

April 27th, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO – To cultivate their role as health care providers, community pharmacists must provide value to patients beyond the clinical benefits of the medicine they've been prescribed, according to Chuck Wilson, vice president of pharmacy operations for Health Mart.

"The key to patient engagement is in discovering the specific barriers that they face and then deploying the right message at the right time to help them overcome these barriers," Wilson said.

"For example, a patient with diabetes who has been newly prescribed insulin may face denial, feel overwhelmed and feel like a failure because he or she didn't succeed on oral medications," he explained. "But an experienced insulin user may have other barriers, such as not testing blood glucose levels or challenges with lifestyle management. Messaging for both patients needs to be tailored to their specific barriers in order to drive action."

That new approach by pharmacists will be crucial this year and beyond as the health care marketplace continues to evolve, Wilson noted.

"While the retail industry will continue to face many challenges in 2012, we are optimistic and see tremendous opportunities for community pharmacists to leverage their role as truly valued community health care providers," he said.

Health Mart, the pharmacy franchise unit of McKesson Corp., has grown to 2,937 locations, adding a net of 157 pharmacies in fiscal 2012.

One big reason for the chain's robust growth has been Health Mart pharmacists' focus on delivering community-based patient care "that has always been accessible, high-quality and affordable," according to Wilson.

"Health Mart pharmacists are critically important to their communities, often serving as the first point of care," he pointed out. "It's not uncommon to meet Health Mart pharmacists from around the country who have served generations of the same family, who keep a 24/7 emergency phone line for patients which they personally answer, who hold leadership positions in statewide pharmacist associations or local government, and who have even delivered prescription medications at four in the morning to patients who couldn't get to the pharmacy on their own."

By emphasizing their clinical expertise, Health Mart pharmacists can establish themselves as a connected member of the patient's health care team. "Health Mart pharmacists pride themselves on getting to know their patients and communities and in delivering personalized care," Wilson said.

The franchise is thriving in an era in which health care perhaps faces more challenges than during any other period in history.

"While reform may make health care more accessible for more Americans, many worry that there won't be enough doctors to care for the more than 30 million additional lives that may be introduced into the system and ask themselves whom patients and payers will turn to," explained Wilson. "We believe pharmacists, as the most accessible health care providers, will fill this gap based on the ability to provide community-based patient care that is professional, personalized and affordable."

Health Mart's pharmacists, too, can play an integral part in addressing another pressing health care issue: As many as three out of four Americans admit they sometimes fail to take their medications as prescribed.

"Pharmacists are in a unique position to help patients adhere to prescribed therapies and represent an ideal channel to deliver patient-centric, adherence support programs," Wilson said. "Pharmacists' conversations with patients can serve to inform, encourage and support patients in making healthier lifestyle choices."

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