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NACDS leaders cite critical role of united industry

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Total Store Expo focuses on new era of retail healthcare

ARLINGTON, Va.–  National Association of Chain Drug Stores chair Colleen Lindholz and NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson kicked off the virtual 2021 NACDS Total Store Expo (TSE) Monday with a clear and consistent message: The COVID pandemic has presented the pharmacy industry with unprecedented challenges, yet retailers and suppliers – united through NACDS – have remained committed to serving communities and are focused on delivering a new era of retail health and wellness that puts patients at the center.

Colleen Lindholz

Colleen Lindholz

 

In remarks during the TSE Business Program, Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, 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.

Despite these challenges, Lindholz noted the “great promise” that exists at this crucial time for the nation, underscoring the power of an industry united through NACDS: “We are fortunate to have NACDS at the ready, taking a forward position on these issues.”

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.”

Steve Anderson, NACDS

Steve Anderson

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.

He 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.

Lindholz said, “NACDS members’ stores are the front doors of healthcare in this country [and] NACDS supplier members are key partners in that role. I cannot think of much that is more exciting than working together on one of the greatest health and wellness transformations of our time. Together, we are bringing healthcare to the people, rather than forcing people to go to healthcare.”

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 discussed 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. NACDS LIVE discussions have centered on myriad topics including digital acceleration, artificial intelligence, health and wellness trends, shopper insights and more.

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.”

Lindholz also focused on the “retail health revolution” that is occurring at companies national and regional, and described a new era that will feature an interdisciplinary team approach to care.  “There is a need, there is an opportunity and there is a movement toward healthcare professionals working ever more collaboratively for the good of the patient. It’s the pharmacist. It’s the nurse practitioner. It’s the dietitian. It’s about empowering patients to access the right healthcare professional at the right time _ wherever they are on their health journey. NACDS members are playing a tremendous role in this _ and this is reason for genuine enthusiasm about where we are going as an industry.”

She asked of NACDS members, “Whether you are involved in the supply chain, technology, planning stores of the future, over-the-counter medications, beauty, food _ what is your role in the revolution? What is your role in a world where NACDS chain members are recognized even more extensively as health and wellness destinations _ as the face of neighborhood healthcare? What is your role as an employer? How can we collaborate? It’s going to take all of us.”

Monday’s Business Program was supported by Scott Emerson and The Emerson Group and also included remarks by Mark Zandi, chief economist and cofounder of Moody’s Analytics.

Wendy Liebmann, CEO and chief shopper at WSL Strategic Retail; Doug Long, Vice President, Industry Relations, IQVIA; and Scott Biggs, Director, Supplier Services, IQVIA, will speak at Tuesday’s Business Program, which is also supported by Scott Emerson and The Emerson Group.

A new innovation being featured during this year’s Total Store Expo is the NACDS Market Exchange _ a retailer-friendly platform that allows suppliers to keep retailers informed about new trends and innovations in the industry. The new digital tool launched in June and opened to retailers in July.

NACDS looks forward to welcoming members to an in-person NACDS Total Store Expo next year, August 27-29, 2022 in Boston.


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