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Keep a druggist in your pocket

March 01, 2011 By: Nadia Category: Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

www.Medtipster.com Source: newsobserver.com, 2.28.2011 – by Sue Stock

It’s not enough for America’s big pharmacy chains to be on every corner.

Now they want to be in your pocket, too.

This year the behemoths of the pharmacy industry including Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid and Target are all ramping up efforts to offer you pharmacy services via your mobile phone.

Want to refill a prescription? No problem.

Check on your medication history? You can do that, too.

Walgreens has even introduced a refill system that allows you to order a prescription refill by using your smart phone camera to take a picture of the bar code on your medication bottle.

The pharmacies say the added features are all about convenience.

“If you look at our national footprint of 7,600 stores throughout the country, our physical stores are within three miles of nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population,” Walgreens spokesman Jim Cohn said. “I think that what we’re doing through our online and our mobile offerings is really extending that convenience to our customers through this channel.”

But, there are other reasons for such companies to explore mobile technology, especially in the super-competitive pharmacy business, said Dan Mendelson, CEO of Avalere Health, a health care advisory company in Washington, and a Duke University adjunct professor.

“What they’re really trying to do is create ‘stickiness’ among their clientele, and they’re also trying to appeal to younger customers who are maybe not going into the pharmacy for other things,” he said. “It’s a marketing strategy and not a whole lot more.”

Still, it seems to be working. Walgreens reports that more than 1 million people have signed up to receive alerts by text message when their refills are ready.

And with that kind of interest from consumers, it should be no surprise that smaller and independent pharmacists are watching closely. Raleigh-based Kerr Drug is exploring mobile technology this year, spokeswoman Diane Eliezer said. Kerr already offers refills through its website.

“We’re just looking for more ways for people to reach us with different devices,” she said. “We’re not going to hesitate to try it when the time is right.”

Here’s a rundown of the different services that are available for consumers:

CVS : Last year, CVS introduced an iPhone app that allows users to refill and transfer prescriptions, view prescription history, access drug information, view the weekly sales ad and use a GPS navigator to locate the nearest store. Users of other devices, including Blackberry and Android phones, can access the same services through the CVS mobile site, m.cvs.com .

Rite Aid : In September, Rite Aid introduced the option for customers to opt in to receive alerts about their prescriptions via text message,e-mail or automated phone call. To opt in, customers should create a profile at www.myriteaid.com and select the appropriate option.

Target: Target has set up a dedicated mobile website, target.com/rx , where users can find a pharmacy, refill or transfer a prescription and enroll in auto refills.

Walgreens: Walgreens has apps for iPhone, Android and Blackberry users that allow customers to find the nearest pharmacy, order refills, access prescription records, view the weekly ad, make a personalized shopping list and even order prints of photos that they take with their mobile phones. The feature through which customers can scan the bar code on their prescription bottles to order refills is only available for iPhone and Android users at this time. More information is available at www.walgreens.com/ mobile .

Online Pharmacy Services are here. Use them!

August 09, 2010 By: Nadia Category: HealthCare, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

Savvy innovations keep drug stores ahead of the game

www.Medtipster.com Source: Drug Store News, 8.6.10 – by Michael Johnsen

Consumers are working more, playing more, shopping more and learning more online than ever before. So the click-and-consult services proffered by Walgreens and Rite Aid not only represent today’s cutting edge technology, but also provide a peek into how consumers may interact with their healthcare team tomorrow.

Other national pharmacy operations can’t be too far behind. Because making pharmacists accessible to patients on their terms, in their time, allows pharmacy retailers the chance to “shake their moneymaker,” as the saying goes.

Pharmacists are drug stores’ most valued assets, and making them available to consumers 24/7 through their own computer screens is an important extension of the brand that doesn’t necessarily incur greater labor costs. Especially as these cyber-pharmacists are able to consult patients from coast-to-coast out of one central location. And if more patients get it in their heads that consulting pharmacists at their convenience on their laptops, smart phones or iPads is the new time-efficient way to get the best answers to their health questions, that can only improve efficiencies at the store level.

Providing a more comprehensive pharmacy service by incorporating an interactive online component also may boost patient retention. During an exclusive interview with The Drug Store News Group last fall, banking veteran and now Walgreens’ SVP e-commerce Sona Chawla explained that those forward-thinking bank institutions that had implemented online banking services in the beginning found that those account-holders who took advantage of those services were less likely to migrate to another bank and just as likely to visit an actual brick-and-mortar branch.

And now Walgreens and Rite Aid will find out if the same will hold true for pharmacy patients — making a more loyal patient who not only increases his or her actual interaction with the pharmacy online but also continues to make as many visits to the actual stores.

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