ARLINGTON, Va. — Working as partners, the retailer and supplier members of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores are delivering a new era of retail health, characterized by an interdisciplinary team approach to health and wellness, said Colleen Lindholz, who chairs the association and serves as president of Kroger Health.
“I cannot think of much that is more exciting than working together on one of the greatest health and wellness transformations of our time,” Lindholz said last month in a presentation to the 2021 NACDS Total Store Expo (TSE), held virtually this year because of the pandemic. “Together, we are bringing health care to the people rather than forcing people to go to health care.”
Lindholz teamed with Steve Anderson, the association’s president and chief executive officer, in emphasizing that the pharmacy industry — united through NACDS — remains focused during the pandemic on forging an era of retail health and wellness that puts patients at the center.
In remarks during the TSE Business Program, Lindholz began by recognizing the dichotomy that exists within the industry: Although there are “tremendous things going on” there are also “so many battles to be fought in public policy and beyond.”
Lindholz described the threats that “jeopardize the vitality of businesses big and small, the livelihoods of team members and the people and the communities we serve” — including below-cost reimbursement, direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees and needless barriers to pharmacy care.
“We are fortunate to have NACDS at the ready, taking a forward position on these issues,” she said.
Anderson echoed Lindholz’s thoughts, focusing on the pharmacy industry speaking with one united voice to create policy changes that will further empower both pharmacies and the patients they serve. “The pharmacy community is aligned and activated … Right now, NACDS and allied pharmacy groups are ensuring we’re bringing the highest levels of political sophistication to these issues.”
Anderson and Lindholz also detailed NACDS-member pharmacies’ and suppliers’ ongoing commitment to thinking differently to meet the health and wellness needs of the American public and to ensuring equitable access to critical care — all of which is being accelerated by the pandemic.
Anderson said, “[Throughout the COVID crisis] pharmacies stayed open, met health and wellness needs, ramped up COVID testing, protected against flu, and helped to reach arms and minds with COVID vaccinations. At the same time, suppliers ramped up, moved product, got creative, gave us continuity and collaborated with retailers to serve consumers and communities. I’m here to tell you, pharmacies are nailing it — and you and your teams are proven heroes.” He cited two recent examples of NACDS’ work to empower pharmacy’s COVID response through advocacy: sharing key operational insights that helped to shape the federal government’s establishment of additional COVID vaccine doses for the immunocompromised and the announcement of booster plans for the general public.
Anderson emphasized the recent “Power of A Gold Award” presented to NACDS by the American Society of Association Executives as a credit to the NACDS membership’s commitment to maximizing the response to the pandemic.
Both Anderson and Lindholz illustrated the future of retail health, and described how innovation, collaboration and connectedness are paving the way forward for a united industry.
Anderson emphasized the pace of change in the industry, and the ways in which retailers and suppliers have remained connected and informed through NACDS by participating in virtual events such as NACDS LIVE, which have focused on such topics as digital acceleration, artificial intelligence, and shopper insights.
In describing the acceleration of retail health, Anderson said, “One thing’s for sure: The industry and the environment don’t look like they did just a few years ago. And the same will be true in the months and years to come. Yet by thinking differently — and doing so together — we can shape this industry for the ultimate good of the consumer.”