Hospitals Look at Retail Pharmacies With Renewed Interest

Christopher Cheney, for HealthLeaders Media , February 3, 2014

Low Margins, But a Better Patient Experience
The pharmacy director said the retail sites are a modest contributor to St. Anthony's bottom line, for now. "It is not a significant revenue producer for the hospital, but it is a revenue producer," he said. "Our margin is relatively low, but we can build our margin up 10 percent over time."

Palomar Medical Center, a 288-bed nonprofit hospital in Escondido, CA, opened a retail pharmacy with attached Starbucks in the fall. The pharmacy, Sav-on, is a partnership with Albertsons, a retail company based in Spokane, WA.

"Palomar Health has had a long-standing relationship with Albertsons in the community, so it was a natural fit to bring our partners into our facility," CAO Gerald Bracht said. "Starbucks and the Sav-on by Albertsons retail store and pharmacy bring added comfort and convenience to our patients, visitors and staff. It's a win-win situation for everyone."

Bracht said Albertsons leases space for the stores in the hospital's lobby, but added "the partnership goes well beyond a tenant agreement."

"The staff of the retail stores share the same commitment to ideal patient care and strive to improve the experience of anyone who comes into the hospital doors," he said. "That could mean delivering flowers to a patient, purchasing a gift for a loved one, stirring up your favorite cup of coffee or picking up prescriptions as a patient is heading home."

Christopher Cheney is the senior finance editor at HealthLeaders Media.
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