Transparency, Collaboration Key Themes at DSN Summit  12/5/2016

Transparency, efficiency, and smart use of insights and data were key themes among retail industry panelists at the Drug Store News Industry Issues Summit held last week in New York, who discussed how to provide enhanced services and product offerings for patients and shoppers.

The Summit, which included panel discussions on Health, Wellness & Technology, Chronic Care, and Industry Issues, featured a roster of retail and pharmacy leaders as well as a keynote by Fox News Anchor Tucker Carlson.

Health, Wellness & Technology
The Health, Wellness & Technology panel discussion focused on placing the retail pharmacy at the center of patients’ healthcare ecosystem, particularly those pharmacies in rural areas where they provide more access than other types of healthcare providers. Panelists provided insights on how to optimize pharmacy operations to deliver a high level of consistent care while leveraging technology to reduce the cost to serve and cost to fill, as well as to free up resources to provide more value-added services to patients.

Among some of the technologies panelists used to deliver this are:

  • Synchronization: Coordinating the delivery of all of a patients medications at the same time to provide more time for pharmacist engagement
  • Central fill to drive efficiencies
  • Telehealth and telemedicine to increase patient access
  • Labor redeployment optimization 
  • E-prescribing
  • Inventory control systems to get the right meds to the right stores at the right times and prevent-excess inventory
Chronic Care
The Chronic Care panel, moderated by Dave Wendland, VP of Strategic Relations for Hamacher Resource Group, discussed the importance of managing the patient journey through the healthcare continuum, and how the ease of this navigation was critical for adherence. Key to this was patient and caregiver education, and helping them to navigate through the wealth of information that is available. “Caregivers are often the managers of this process,” said Leon Nevers, Director of business Development and Procurement for H-E-B.

Indeed, for today’s chronic care patients, healthcare is in their home, in a hotel when they travel, restaurants they may visit – it’s a part of their everyday lifestyle. According to Tammy Royer, SVP of Pharmacy Operations for Rite Aid, “The retailer, the pharmacist and the pharmacist’s assistants are at the center of this coordinated care.”

Here, too, technology can play a role, including telehealth and social media, which can help to inform patients when they are not near a healthcare provider. In the store, synchronization can help patients make the best use of their time by freeing up pharmacists to consult with them, and education centers, such as Wakefern’s Diabetes Centers and education programs, provide helpful information for managing their chronic ailments.

Industry Issues Summit

The panel on industry issues, moderated by Dan Mack, author of Dark Horse: How Challenger Companies Rise to Prominence and founder of the Mack Elevation Forum, featured a who’s who of retail industry leaders and focused on planning for the future of retailing.

Trust and transparency in retailer-supplier relations was a major theme throughout the discussion, which touched on the topics including localization, omnichannel offers, getting ahead of emerging trends. They also discussed how to find and develop next-generation leadership in retail.

Sam’s Club VP and DMM, Healthcare David Badeen, stressed the importance of supplier transparency when dealing with the club chain. “I want frank, concise communication from suppliers,” he said. “I want them to manage the small details, and to be up front with me."

This was especially the case when it comes to new item launches, for which he outlined several key points of information suppliers needed to provide in order for the launch to happen, including:
  • Who is the target customer?
  • The key void the supplier’s product fills.
  • A clear channel strategy
  • Where the brand will rank in the category
  • A clear exit strategy for the brand
“If the product doesn’t meet our hurdle rate, we’ll need to take it from the shelf, so you must have an exit plan for the product to be considered,” added Badeen. He also noted that it was critical for suppliers to work closely with retailers during their product development process, particularly on package design and marketing strategy.

Walgreen’s Group VP and GMM for Health & Wellness Robert Tompkins also stressed the importance of working closely with retailers to ensure alignment between both parties. “We want to leverage their assets whenever possible,” he said. This includes their data, their marketing, and even their personnel, when possible.

Having a clear and strong omnichannel strategy is critical moving forward, according to the panelists. “I don’t think any retailer will thrive without embracing an omnichannel philosophy,” said Annie Walker, VP of OTC Merchandising for Walmart, which recently stepped up its omnichannel game with the purchase of

Indeed,’s Director of Healthcare Zac Bensinger, was also on the panel, and gave an overview of how the online retailer collaborates with its suppliers for the benefit of each and, as with the other panel topics, emphasized the importance of transparency. “We share as many insights as we can from the data we collect, such as brand performance and the demographics of their customers,” he said.

Editor’s note: Executive reports from each of the three Dec. 1 panel discussions will appear in the February, March and April 2017 editions of DSN. For more information, visit

Joseph Tarnowski

VP Content

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