BOSTON — Retailers and suppliers who returned to this year’s National Association of Chain Drug Stores Total Store Expo late last month heard an encouraging message about their industry and its growing role at the center of America’s health care and wellness future.
NACDS chair Brian Nightengale, who is also president of Good Neighbor Pharmacy, and NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson both spoke of the progress that retail pharmacists have made in expanding their role and status as health care providers and told retail members and suppliers that the association is committed to building on those accomplishments.
“It is no coincidence that the theme of this year’s Total Store Expo is ‘Tomorrow Happens Here.’ NACDS represents over 70 chain member companies and nearly 800 supplier partners,” Nightengale said. “Although the association is collectively diverse, we stand united in a common cause — to transform the pharmacy industry into a force greater than the sum of its parts. Together, we constitute the most accessible, most trusted and most affordable health care destination in America. As such, we seek an expanded role within our country’s health and wellness ecosystem.”
Anderson also emphasized the retail pharmacy industry’s evolving role and growing potential.
“NACDS has been at this a long time: advancing pharmacies as the face of neighborhood health care,” he said. “The pandemic confirmed our case, and redoubled our resolve. These issues are accelerating now because people know that retailers and suppliers were there when it mattered most — with accessible and equitable care.”
Nightengale and Anderson both went on to detail the momentum that continues to build for priority issues of NACDS, including:
• Maintaining Americans’ access to critical pharmacy-based services beyond the COVID-19 pandemic by passing the bipartisan Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act (HR 7213).
• Defending patient care by pursuing policy solutions intended to help ensure fair and adequate pharmacy reimbursement.
• Expanding pharmacies’ role in the delivery of health and wellness solutions — across the pharmacy and the total store.
• Leveraging pharmacies’ unique position in the health care ecosystem as the most accessible, most trusted face of neighborhood health care — and capitalizing on opportunities for collaboration between chains and suppliers to advance new and innovative ways to reach patients and consumers.
“On a personal level, it’s exciting to see innovation help pharmacies amplify their local voice,” Nightengale said. “We’ve enabled our Good Neighbor Pharmacy members to leverage their personal relationships through our digital platform, connecting them with patients in the community, and driving awareness of supplier products and services. Most recently, at our annual Good Neighbor Pharmacy trade show, we partnered with a supplier to provide live demonstrations in our model pharmacy clinic on how to use testing products and answer questions on the results of the test.
“We are seeing pharmacies actively connecting with their patients through digital channels to market their clinical services, introduce new and innovative products, and engage with their community in new ways. Pharmacy consumers are increasingly turning to online channels like social media, mobile apps and Google Search to engage with their pharmacy, just like they do with their other retail store
Nightengale urged TSE attendees to capitalize on opportunities to collaborate, share ideas and forge new relationships.
“While you’re enjoying TSE over the next few days, take special note of how often partnership comes into play,” he said. “Relationships are at the core of the NACDS experience. You can see it when drug stores, supermarkets and mass merchants make invaluable connections with suppliers to launch their business to a new level.”
In describing the bold new NACDS initiative — NACDS 2023 — Anderson quoted a recent JD Power survey illustrating the acceleration of retail health and the American consumer’s evolving perception of the industry’s role in their own health and wellness journey. The survey said, “Customers are embracing retail pharmacies as hubs for broad health and wellness services. It’s an opportunity for retail pharmacies to innovate as a one-stop shop for routine care.”
Nightengale said of the initiative, “NACDS 2023 will focus on a board-driven priority: defining our organization’s future role in helping the membership serve consumers in new and innovative ways. This initiative will emphasize the pharmacy industry’s comprehensive approach to health and wellness — in the pharmacy, throughout the total store, through creative partnerships, and far — far — beyond.
“Whether you’re a supplier or retailer, I’m confident you’ll find it relevant to the way you do business and connect with consumers. As we build out the NACDS 2023 strategy, we remain active in advancing consumer-empowered, community-focused health and wellness.”
As an example, NACDS is coordinating with the Biden administration on how the NACDS membership can best support the upcoming White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health — particularly given the industry’s priority focus on core health and wellness issues such as food as medicine, chronic disease prevention, health equity and addressing social determinants of health.
Looking ahead to the 90th anniversary of NACDS, Anderson and Nightengale closed their remarks with emphasis on the momentum and acceleration that has been achieved, at the federal and state levels, on issues of vital importance to pharmacy viability and patient health — and the collaborative work that must continue into 2023.
“When you think of pharmacy services, broader health and wellness services, and reimbursement, these are issues we’ve long fought for — and we’ve achieved much,” Anderson said. “These are issues that are accelerating. And these are issues that deserve wins for the American people.”