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Walgreens says new small-format retailer personalizes care, might assist in ‘pharmacy deserts’

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Walgreen Shops in Lexington Park, MD.

Supply: Walgreens

Walgreens has rolled out a brand new type of retailer that shrinks down its sq. footage and focuses on the pharmacy.

Count on to see fewer front-of-store objects, a slimmed down collection of over-the-counter drugs and an emphasis on relationships between pharmacists and clients.

It has opened greater than 30 small-format pharmacies as a part of a pilot, and it could open further ones relying on how the shops carry out. Inside the corporate, the venture was dubbed “Cooper” — a reference to the Mini Cooper, a small BMW car with a cult following.  

Walgreens Boots Alliance is testing new approaches as its competitors grows. Gross sales in fiscal 2019 rose 4.1% to $136.9 billion, however adjusted earnings per share fell 0.5%. 

Together with feeling the warmth from CVS Health and different drugstores, Walmart and Amazon are each increasing their well being care focus. Walmart has opened 4 clinics that supply a broad array of companies at a low value, together with main care and dental care, along with the pharmacies it has at lots of its big-box shops. Amazon bought PillPack two years ago, laying the muse for the corporate to broaden into pharmacy.

Walgreens is balancing its funding with cost-cutting efforts which have included layoffs and a whole bunch of retailer closures. Shares of Walgreens, which have a market worth of $36.7 billion, are down 29% because the begin of the yr. The corporate’s drugstores initially noticed a sales surge during the pandemic, as individuals stocked up on necessities and prescriptions, however that dropped off with stay-at-home orders.

Walgreens has turned a few of its greater than 9,200 U.S. shops into “neighborhood well being locations” — a time period it makes use of to explain places with well being care companies together with a pharmacy. In some shops, it rents house to diagnostics firm LabCorp, optical firm For Eyes and weight reduction firm Jenny Craig. It has 14 places that supply main care by way of agreements with third-party firms, corresponding to Village MD. Greater than 230 of Walgreens’ shops have clinics run and staffed with a nurse practitioner from a well being system.

Walgreens’ group vp of pharmacy operations Rina Shah mentioned the corporate wished to maneuver away from a “one-size-fits-all method” and tailor retailer choices extra to a neighborhood and close by clients. 

She mentioned the small-format pharmacy was impressed partly by Walgreens shops close to well being care techniques which might be smaller in measurement and cater to clients selecting up medicine after getting discharged from the hospital.

In early 2019, it started testing the small-format pharmacies. It now has the shops in quite a lot of small cities and enormous cities throughout the nation, together with Cellular, Alabama; Greenville, South Carolina; Schenectady, New York; Bethesda, Maryland; Indianapolis, Indiana; Jacksonville, Texas and Knoxville, Tennessee.

Walgreens retailer in Winston-Salem.

Supply: Walgreens

Slimmed down choice

Small-format pharmacies are a couple of quarter of the dimensions of the Walgreens’ typical retailer, which common about 13,500 sq. toes. The shops have a extra open idea and get every day deliveries, so that they have much less inventory within the again.

Inside shops, clients will not discover the standard huge choice. As an alternative, they’re going to discover a sharper give attention to well being and wellness merchandise like nutritional vitamins, over-the-counter drugs, thermometers and Band-Aids, Shah mentioned.

She mentioned it is modified the combo of merchandise, relying on what clients need. For instance, at one retailer, it expanded the part of cough and chilly drugs.

Shops have a restricted assortment of drinks in a small cooler and snacks, together with wholesome choices like veggie chips, peanuts, pretzels and popcorn.

Walgreens retailer in Winston-Salem.

Supply: Walgreens

Pharmacy focus

Pharmacists play a central function within the new type of retailer — and Walgreens hopes that customized care will finally result in higher well being outcomes, Shah mentioned. 

She mentioned the corporate sees the smaller shops as a spot the place extra individuals can have one-on-one conversations with pharmacists, notably these taking a number of drugs or with advanced and power situations. 

“These shops are actually meant to offer a high-touch expertise, and even a handy expertise, to our sufferers in a special capability than probably a really busy 24-hour location the place individuals are coming out and in,” she mentioned.

Thus far, she mentioned Walgreens has gotten optimistic suggestions from sufferers and medical doctors concerning the “hands-on method.” She mentioned it is observed early indicators this type has elevated affected person adherence, or the quantity of people that comply with medical recommendation and take their prescription appropriately.

Together with filling prescriptions, the pharmacies additionally provide vaccinations just like the flu shot, she mentioned. 

A Walgreens retailer in Houston, TX.

Supply: Walgreens

Drive-thru possibility

Like many different Walgreens shops, the vast majority of the small-format pharmacies have a drive-thru the place clients can zip by way of and decide up objects as a substitute of parking and coming inside. That possibility has gained recognition through the coronavirus pandemic, Shah mentioned. 

Nearly all of Walgreens’ shops within the U.S. have drive-thrus.

Walgreen Shops in Lexington Park, MD.

Supply: Walgreens

Reply to ‘pharmacy deserts’?

Shah mentioned the corporate is testing the small-format pharmacies in numerous places, together with city, suburban and rural areas. At the same time as individuals order prescriptions on-line or get them delivered to their door, Shah mentioned brick-and-mortar places nonetheless play an vital function. 

“The worth of pharmacy is just not a lot the prescription that you just take,” she mentioned. “It is understanding easy methods to take the medicine, what unwanted side effects you might want to handle after which finally, how do you handle your illness going ahead.

The corporate considers quite a lot of components when deciding the place to open the shops, corresponding to whether or not there is a want for extra pharmacies and larger well being care entry, Shah mentioned. 

“Each buyer and each market is slightly completely different, so we’re simply trying to perceive precisely the place would this match,” she mentioned. These embody “pharmacy deserts,” the place clients haven’t got a close-by place to select up prescriptions.

“That is an setting the place a small-format pharmacy might slot in rather well, ” she mentioned.

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