Ahold USA and its nearly 600 retail pharmacies in the U.S. needed to create real-time, comprehensive profiles of its pharmacy customers and patients in order to compete more effectively in a health care environment now driven by value-based care. Ahold is leveraging technology to provide actionable information to its pharmacists, giving them the tools they need to improve the health status of customers and patients as well as the business health of their individual stores.

Replacing a Legacy Pharmacy Management System

The nearly 600 U.S. pharmacies operated by Ahold USA through its supermarket brands in 14 states and the District of Columbia were using an antiquated pharmacy management system.

The system, which was first introduced in the retail pharmacy market in 1981, had limited capabilities to connect individual pharmacies, connect pharmacies to other health care providers, collect customer and patient data from multiple sources and scale along with Ahold's growing pharmacy business.

On a macro level, the legacy pharmacy management system did not provide Ahold with the tools necessary to meet the demands of the new health care environment.

On a micro level, the legacy pharmacy management system did not support the three pillars of Ahold's new pharmacy strategy: Install a centralized, scalable system; install a system that can integrate pharmacy with its health and beauty and baby care business lines; and install a system that can deliver on the promises of a new pharmacy business marketing campaign.

Building a Central Pharmacy Database

Ahold USA issued a request-for-proposals for a new pharmacy management system that would provide its pharmacies with those tools and support the three pillars of its pharmacy strategy.

"What we really wanted to be able to do was build comprehensive and real-time profiles of our customers and patients to understand their medication needs," says Raymond McCall, senior vice president for health and household at Ahold USA. "To do that, we needed to connect all our stores and connect all our stories with other providers to build a centralized data base."

Ultimately, Ahold chose McKesson's pharmacy management system, EnterpriseRx, to replace the legacy system and overcome Ahold's pharmacy challenges.

Ahold successfully piloted the new system at 22 pharmacy locations and then began rolling it out to the 540 remaining locations. Averaging an aggressive 18 sites going live per week, the rollout is scheduled to be completed within a year.

Driving Retail Pharmacy Growth

At the more than 500 sites that have gone live to date on the new EnterpriseRx system, pharmacists already are experiencing a positive difference in the way they practice, McCall says.

"The system is allowing us to pivot in a new direction for pharmacy," he explains. "It's freeing up our pharmacists, giving them the opportunity to counsel customers and patients."

Enabling Ahold pharmacists to offer advice on such things as medication adherence, prevention and wellness, blood pressure, vaccinations, nutrition, diet, exercise and more is actionable information culled from the database on customers and patients. Not only does that experience improve the health status of customers and patients, but it also can drive business in other areas of Ahold sites such as food and health care products.

"Our pharmacists now are making a difference in our stores beyond the pharmacy counter," McCall says.

As for the future, he says Ahold anticipates being able to capture health information from customers and patients via their health care wearables, making the database more robust and supplying Ahold pharmacists with precise, real-time data to assist people with their health care needs.

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