Regional Chains Focus on Pharmacy and People

Pharmacy Careers, Volume 0,0

Ms. Sax is a freelance writer based in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Many pharmacy studentslook forward toentering the world ofcommunity pharmacy.Opening your own independentpharmacy can be a daunting proposition,yet large national chains can beoverwhelming in their scope.

Regional chains, with their smallersize and more closely-held management,can be the perfect choice. Thesechains are often able to provide theirpatients with professional servicesthat larger chains cannot deliver.Pharmacists at regional chains saythey can really get to know theirpatients and are able to become asignificant part of a patient's healthcare team.

Snyders Offers Opportunities Like Large Chains, Caring of Small Chains

Many pharmacists say the smallerscale of regional pharmacy chainsenables them to have more directcontact with management and havea greater impact on the day-to-daybusiness. "As a regional chain, weoffer everything that is available atthe national chains, but with thecaring of a small-town pharmacy,"said Jodi Ristau, PharmD, vice presidentof pharmacy operations at Minnetonka,Minnesota?based SnydersDrug Stores. "Snyders is a leader inproviding high-quality services to itspatients. We encourage our pharmacistsand other members of thestore team to become involved intheir community. By doing so, theemployees feel a sense of ownershipand pride in customer service,patient care, and the profession ofpharmacy."

Ristau said that the 50-unit chainexperiences low turnover becausepharmacists feel that they are a keypart of the business. "We recognizethat each individual store hasa unique personality, dependingon the neighborhood in which it islocated," she said. "We fit the personalityof the pharmacists we hire tothe personality of the store and theneighborhood."

Once Snyders pharmacists get toknow patient needs in their particularstore, the chain gives themthe opportunity to pilot patient careinitiatives with the aid of the uppermanagement team. "We encourageall employees to learn, excel, andgrow," said Ristau. "We promotefrom within whenever we can, andmany of our employees at the corporateoffice began as cashiers whenthey were 16 years old."

This translates into opportunityfor pharmacists, especially since theprofession is valued as the keystoneof the company's business. "Pharmacistsreport to pharmacists at ourcompany," said Ristau. "Our currentvice president of pharmacy beganher career in a staff position, and ourchief executive and other key executivesand managers are all pharmacists."

It is no surprise that the chain placesa high value on pharmacy services."Snyders is a pharmacy-driven companyfocused on patient care," saidRistau. In addition to filling prescriptions,supervising and training techniciansand interns, and reorderinginventory and supplies, pharmacistsspend much of their time counselingpatients and providing professionalservices.

"Our pharmacists have been workingwith neighborhood physicians inorder to educate them on medicationtherapy management and immunizationservices provided by our pharmacists,"said Ristau.

Kerr Drug Maintains Focus on Pharmacy

Raleigh, North Carolina?based KerrDrug is another good example ofa regional drug chain that remainsfocused on pharmacy. The chain has differentiated itself as a health caredestination.

Lori Brown, PharmD

"Kerr Drug has demonstrated commitmentto customer/patient satisfactionas an absolute priority," saidLori Brown, PharmD, director ofclinical operations and manager ofclinical services at the chain. "Weare committed to improving healthoutcomes related to cost, quality, andaccess and to further strengthen ourrole as an agent in leading change."

This focus extends to the chain'sstaff. "As a regional chain, Kerr corporateleaders make a point to visitstores with regularity and establishpersonal relationships with store andpharmacy associates," said Brown."A positive attitude to do ?whatever ittakes' is appreciated and emulated byassociates, because it originates at thetop with Chairman and Chief ExecutiveOfficer Tony Civello's hands-onleadership style. Associates at Kerrfind these qualities quite refreshingand distinctive in today's marketplace."

Photos courtesy of Kerr Drug

Also distinctive at the chain is thewide range of options available topharmacists, because the chain offersboth traditional and clinical positions.At the chain's 100 retail drugstores,pharmacists are focused onprescription fulfillment and patientcounseling. Pharmacists have opportunitiesto participate in immunizationdelivery, low time-density medicationtherapy management (MTM)services, and limited practice-basedresearch initiatives. "Not only areKerr pharmacists practicing diseasemanagement and patient counseling,they have demonstrated industryleadership in the development andimplementation of innovative communitypharmacy services for morethan a decade," said Brown.

Pharmacists in the stores also identifywhich patients need a referral tothe clinical services provided by KerrClinical Practices Pharmacies. In thatsetting, PharmD residency-trainedclinical pharmacists, who are speciallytrained in the delivery of MTMservices, immunizations, diabeteseducation, preventive education,and chronic disease managementprograms, provide more specializeddirect patient care.

Kerr's clinical pharmacists evaluatepatient response to medicationtherapy regimens, identify any problemswith utilization, adverse drugreactions, interactions, duplicatetherapy dose evaluation, and reviewcost-saving opportunities, then makerecommendations that can includeanything from measures to improveadherence, absorption, or efficacy, tohow to decrease adverse drug eventsor cost.

Patients receive a personal medicationrecord that includes the patient'sdrug allergies, medical conditions,and medications, along with a medicationaction plan detailing recommendationsmade by the pharmacistduring the patient's MTM session.The action plan also is forwarded tothe patient's primary health care provider,along with recommendationsso that any follow-up can be done.

The regional chain's commitmentto providing a new level of quality carehas been recognized by a number ofprofessional organizations. The KerrDrug Clinical Team was the 2006recipient of the prestigious AmericanPharmacists Association FoundationPinnacle Award for DemonstratingQuality in the Medication Use Process.The team also was recognized asthe 2007 Outcomes PharmaceuticalHealth Care National MTM Providerof the Year Award. In 2008, the chainwas named North Carolina DiabetesAssociation Provider of the Year, oneof the few pharmacy-based programsrecognized by the American DiabetesAssociation.

Kerr truly offers a unique environmentwhere pharmacists are valuedfor the skills they can bring to thechain. "Kerr is successful because ofmany things, but none is greater thanits people," said Brown. "People whoare truly dedicated, who truly wantto make a difference and care aboutdoing what is right, have a big impacton the chain."