“It’s the vibe of the thing, your Honour” Dennis Denuto, The Castle 1997

I’m guessing that not many people have seen the 1997 Australian movie “The Castle” – so you’ll just have to trust me that “It’s the vibe of the thing, your Honour” is one of the most memorable quotes from one of my favorite movies!  The “vibe” that the Dennis Denuto character is talking about is an all-encompassing feeling, a sweeping emotion, and a certain special quality.

At last week’s NACDS Total Store Expo, the “vibe of the thing” was the energy around health, wellness, and patient care.  At this annual gathering of pharma manufacturers and pharmacy retailers, the evidence was everywhere, from the exhibit floor to the education sessions to the executive presentations.  Colin Powell, in his inspiring presentation as a featured speaker, was definitely part of the vibe, commending pharmacy’s ability to “take care of your fellow citizens, help them when they’re in need”.

 “Where do you go first?  The pharmacy”.

Those were the words of Alex Gourlay in his remarks during the opening session, citing the pharmacy’s importance in the treatment continuum.  Mr. Gourlay, who is the co-chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance, emphasized the critical function of pharmacists due to their proximity to the patient coupled with their ever-expanding scope of practice.  One example of this expanding scope:  pharmacists now have limited prescribing privileges in 18 states.  He also pointed out that with the continued physician shortage in the U.S., pharmacists will become increasingly incorporated into direct patient care. His assertion that “pharmacy and the pharmacist are at the heart of the Walgreens philosophy” underscored his company’s commitment to providing convenient healthcare and helping their customers lead healthier lives.

When we weren’t meeting with pharma clients or retailers, many on our team had a chance to attend the numerous Insight Sessions on topics ranging from pharmacy-performed TB testing to reducing hospital readmission rates:

Matching health and wellness services to consumers’ priorities

Andrew Mandzy, Director of Strategic Insights at Nielsen, opened his presentation about The Health and Wellness Consumer with a slide that said it all “Health is not simply the absence of sickness”.  He went on to talk about the ways that consumers’ entire definition of health is very different from the past.  They are more conscious of costs and more open to alternative channels for care and health maintenance. He pointed out that the key health and wellness drivers:

  • Americans are more focused on health and wellness – they are eating healthier, exercising more, seeing a doctor
  • An aging population baby boomers are seeking more fiber, heart-healthy products, vitamins/minerals, and antioxidants
  • Increase in chronic diseases almost 4 in 10 households suffer from a chronic ailment that requires an Rx and/or OTC.
    • 74% of those with chronic conditions would prefer to fill their prescriptions at pharmacies
    • Ailment management impacts the entire store – not only the pharmacy counter but also the OTC/personal care areas, center-store, and perimeter
  • Rising healthcare costs consumers are increasingly conscious of out-of-pocket costs and are feeling the pinch
    • Fewer doctors means people are turning to proactive self-care and other HCPs.
    • Retailers are providing a path, including increasing healthcare-related services and providing relevant health information and education
  • Demand for transparency people are paying closer attention to the ingredients in their foods as well as in other products like vitamins and personal care items. They expect manufacturers to re-calibrate ingredients accordingly and provide clearer, more understandable labels.

Forward-thinking retailers are already on-board with these trends, supporting their shoppers’ medical needs by offering myriad health-related services and resources.  But they have the potential to influence consumer’s lives to an even greater extent by matching-up their initiatives to the new “health and wellness consumer”.

Energy, excitement, and optimism

This marked our 15th consecutive year as an exhibitor at the NACDS event, and you’d think that a certain amount of wear-out would occur after all these years.  But that was not the case at all.  Every year, I’m amazed and impressed by the optimism in our industry and the excitement about what the future holds – it’s the vibe of the thing!

By the way, if you haven’t seen “The Castle”, try to catch it sometime…it might be available on DVD or streaming.  It stands the test of time as one of those “feel good” movies you’ll want to see again and again.