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SpartanNash plans mobile pharmacy app to build customer relationships

SpartanNash, which operates 88 pharmacies in the upper Midwest, will launch a mobile pharmacy application this summer, enabling customers to refill prescriptions, receive pickup and dosage reminders and manage accounts for their families.

The supermarket and pharmacy retailer is partnering with mobile pharmacy technology company mscripts for the application, which will operate on a secure network. The news is an example of how regional pharmacies are increasingly jumping into mobile as a way to compete against national chains such as Walgreens, CVS and Rite-Aid, which have been active in mobile for some time.

“With the proliferation of smartphones and ‘on-the-go’ lifestyles, our patients need options to quickly and easily have access to their prescriptions,” said Chris Smith, pharmacy services manager at SpartanNash, Grand Rapids, MI.

“For a regional chain, we have the advantage of still having personal contact and relationships with our patients, but they do expect the same conveniences of us that they would get from the national chains,” he said.

SpartanNash is a new company formed by the merger of grocery retailer Spartan Stores and Nash Finch, a large grocery distributor. The merger was completed in Nov. 2013, with the new company operating 172 supermarkets.

The retailer’s 88 pharmacies in six states operate under the names Family Fare Pharmacy, D&W Fresh Market Pharmacy, Glen’s Pharmacy, VG’s Food & Pharmacy, Quality Care Pharmacy and Forest Hills Pharmacy.

Building relationships
SpartanNash views the pharmacy app as an opportunity to build better relationships with its pharmacy customers.

For example, the app will be integrated within McKesson’s EnterpriseRx pharmacy management system, enabling the retailers to offer a variety of digital communication pathways to its customers.

Customers will also be able to refill prescriptions via text messaging or in the app, no matter where they are, and transfer prescriptions between locations.

Additionally, users will be able to set reminders to take their medications without the need to enter prescription information first. A list of all of a customer’s prescriptions will be available in the app.

More than convenience
SpartanNash will also be able to alert patients in the event of a recall or other events such as a pandemic flu event.

The new app is expected to be available in early summer 2014 as a free download on Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

“Our relationship with mscripts provides value to our patients beyond simply refilling a prescription through the Web or mobile app,” Mr. Smith said. “We are excited to offer our patients the ability to get pick up and refill reminders, the ability to view their entire prescription profile on the device, and transfer prescriptions within the 88 stores in our chain all through the app.

“Obviously, this is important to our patients because of convenience, but really we think it’s the right thing to give our patients tools such that they can share their prescription information at a physician appointment right from their phone or customize their pharmacy experience with us,” he said.

“We are also helping our patients tackle the multi-billion dollar problem of prescription non-adherence by giving them the option to set dosing reminders, utilize refill reminders and even set reminders for doctors’ appointments.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York