Pharmacists Empowered at Supermarket Chains

Pharmacy Careers, Volume 0, 0

Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, Rhode Island.

Chain and independent pharmacies are notthe only community pharmacy options open to pharmacists.Increasingly, supermarket pharmacies are offeringmore patient services and are becoming indispensablepharmacy resources for their patients. They also havebecome a very attractive practice setting for pharmacists.

"Today's consumers are looking for answers to help themself-manage their health, and supermarkets have recognizedthat a pharmacy within the store uniquely positions them tomeet this customer demand," said Cathy Polley, vice presidentof pharmacy services at the Food Marketing Institute(FMI), a supermarket trade organization. "Our membersbelieve that there is significant value in leveraging food andpharmacy within the store, and it is rare today that a supermarketopens today without a pharmacy."

Polley said that 71% of today's pharmacies dispense prescriptions,up from 51% 10 years ago. "Supermarket pharmaciesnow fill 14% of all retail prescriptionsand account for more than9% of total store sales. This strongperformance demonstrates that pharmaciesare strategically essential tofood retailers," she said.

A recent FMI study found thatsupermarket pharmacies offer agrowing array of health and wellnessservices, often working closely withother health care specialists such asdietitians and nurse practitioners.Nearly half of all food retailers surveyedin the FMI study provide healthseminars and disease managementprograms. Nearly 40%, for example,offer walk-in clinics.

"Supermarket pharmaciesoffer many professionalservices to enhancethe shopping experiencefor their consumers whoare trying to live healthierlifestyles," said Polley."Our supermarket Pharmacy Trends 2008 survey reportsthat more than 80% of supermarket pharmacies are offeringor planning to offer medication therapy management[MTM] services." The survey found that diabetes, hypertension,heart disease, and high cholesterol are the mostcommonly addressed medical conditions in supermarketMTM programs.

SUPERVALU PHARMACISTS OFFER VALUABLEPATIENT SERVICES

At Franklin Park, Illinois?based SUPERVALU Pharmacies,pharmacists perform a variety of in-store clinicalservices that include immunizations, MTM, and diabetescare services. "With today's rising rates of diabetes,obesity, and related health conditions, we are furtherexpanding our pharmacy services to better address thesegrowing public health concerns," said Nikki Price, RPh,director of pharmacy education atSUPERVALU Pharmacies.

"Our location in a supermarketenvironment puts us in a great positionto reach large segments of thepopulation across the country andmake a significant impact," saidPrice. "We believe that by teachingour patients and store customershow to make wise food and pharmacychoices, our pharmacists canhelp them stay healthy or manageany health conditions they have."

SUPERVALU's Eating HealthyWith Diabetes program gives thechain's Diabetes Care pharmacistsopportunities to talk withtheir patients about diabetesin a way that isinstructionaland easy tounderstand. "In additionto providing guidance onthe best ways to managetheir medications andproperly use their blood glucose meters, our DiabetesCare Pharmacists team up with registered dietitians toconduct educational store tours," said Price. "These storetours focus on food label reading and education on thebasis of making healthy choices for meals and snacks, aswell as understanding all pharmacy solutions to maximizehealth."

PHARMACY A KEY TO A&P'S LONGEVITY

A&P, first known as The Great Atlantic and Pacific TeaCompany, has the distinction of being one of the nation'sfirst supermarket chains. The grocery chain is anotherexample of a supermarket chain that is focused on strongpharmacy services. The company operates more than 440stores, which include 134 supermarkets with pharmacies.A&P's corporate culture is creative and inviting—anenvironment that makes it an attractive place for pharmaciststo work.

At A&P, pharmacists oversee all aspects involved inrunning the day-to-day operations of the pharmacy.Pharmacists develop, implement, and deliver high-qualitypharmaceutical services while maintaining high standardsof pharmaceutical care. Staff pharmacists ensurethat all prescriptions are prepared and dispensed incompliance with company policy, pharmacy procedure,and state and federal laws. They also develop and executein-store and local merchandising programs and promotethe pharmacy business overall.

Disease management and patient counseling are keyareas for A&P pharmacists. "Many of our pharmacistsare involved in medication therapy management, whichenables them to spend time with patients. We also encouragethem to partner with community health screenings,health fairs, and other events," said Carol DiNicolantonio,senior director of pharmacy at A&P. "We enable our pharmaciststo present and implement ideas on state-of-the-artpharmaceutical practices regularly. We actually havea team of clinical pharmacists who meet to discuss bestpractices on a regular basis and who share their ideas withothers throughout the organization."

A&P staff pharmacists have a number of opportunitiesfor career growth on 2 career paths. Some pharmacistschoose to become pharmacy managers and then progressto district manager and other management positions,while others opt for a clinical pharmacist position andprogress through that channel.

In summary, supermarket pharmacies have a lot tooffer—not only do they provide convenience for patientsto complete their pharmacy needs while they are groceryshopping, but this provides an ideal point for pharmaciststo become involved in their patients' health care andaffect patient outcomes.