Supervalu Expanding Medication Therapy Management

Supervalu, Eden Prairie, Minn., plans to greatly expand its medication therapy management program by September, a company executive told a workshop here during the Pharmacy Conference of the Food Marketing Institute, Arlington, Va., last week. The company started with eight specialists in the Chicago area last year, covering about 90 stores, and recently expanded the program to include 25

CHICAGO — Supervalu, Eden Prairie, Minn., plans to greatly expand its medication therapy management program by September, a company executive told a workshop here during the Pharmacy Conference of the Food Marketing Institute, Arlington, Va., last week.

The company started with eight specialists in the Chicago area last year, covering about 90 stores, and recently expanded the program to include 25 total specially trained pharmacists covering 200 stores. Most of the additions are in the West, and Supervalu plans to have 60 specialists covering 500 stores by the end of September, said Jaime Hendrickson, manager, MTM services, Supervalu Pharmacies, which is based in Franklin Park, Ill.

“MTM is really what pharmacists have been trained to do. What we learned in school is how to manage medications and ensure appropriateness of therapy,” Hendrickson told the conference, which was co-located here with the FMI Show.

Among other benefits, the program will help Supervalu attract and retain a better group of pharmacists, she noted. “The pharmacists in our pharmacies are looking for more.”

Supervalu has also seen increased customer satisfaction and greater loyalty from the patients that participate in the program, Hendrickson said. “We know that these patients are going to build strong relationships not only with the pharmacists that are filling their prescriptions, but also the pharmacists that they sit down with” to discuss their medication therapy, she said.

“From the top of our company down, I think everyone recognizes that this is the way of the future for pharmacy, even more so than, for example, a diabetes program that focuses on a specific disease state,” she said.

Supervalu uses a specialist model for MTM, in which some of its pharmacists are trained for the program and spend a certain number of hours a week in various stores counseling patients, Hendrickson said. This is a more efficient way to build the program, she said, and it allows for more flexibility if a payer, such an insurance company, wants to service a large number of patients in a given geographic area.

However, the program is off to a slow start in terms of awareness and participation, and the company has not yet reached a break-even point for its investment. Hendrickson could not say when the program might start paying for itself, but it will depend on patient awareness and on more payers implementing MTM. Supervalu's MTM program includes Medicare and Medicaid patients, but also those covered by insurance companies such as Humana, Louisville, Ky.