Harmons Pharmacies Are Special

February 18, 2020

Greg Jones, RPh, MBA, director of pharmacy services and his team are doing some amazing things in pharmacy.

Harmons is an upscale family-owned grocery chain with its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. The chain features 19 grocery locations, 18 of them with pharmacies. Greg Jones, RPh, MBA, Director of Pharmacy Services, and his team are doing some amazing things in pharmacy.

First, the pharmacy department works closely with the company’s 7 registered dietitians to help pharmacy patients benefit from a variety of nutritional support programs. The dietitians work with all of the fresh food teams and the employee wellness program, as well as provide dietitian support to Harmons shoppers. This includes food tours, diabetes education, and a carefully orchestrated program that provides special shelf labels on products throughout the store that meet specific nutritional criteria. 

Specifically, the dietitians place a special label on the shelf to highlight products that are gluten free, organic, local, or that are considered “Dietitians Choice.” The items tagged as “Dietitians Choice” meet nutritional guidelines for the healthy choices in specific categories across the store. Manufacturers are very good at creating food confusion–is this healthy or is it just marketing? The “Dietitians Choice” program makes it easy to find the healthy products– just look for the green tags on the shelves.   Another one of the labels they use points out OTC or other health products that the Harmons’ pharmacist recommends. All in all, the program is exceptionally well run and helps to build on the grocery chain’s image of providing fresh and nutritious foods.

Their second program, focusing on specialty pharmacy, is a bit more sophisticated and clearly positions Jones and his team as pharmacy trailblazers.

Harmons has a full-time sales representative that calls on prescribers all over the Salt Lake Valley. His job is to let health care professionals know about the specialty pharmaceuticals Harmons can supply and support services they provide. 

The company website has a link to the documents for specialty disease states and medications designed for prescriber use in submitting prescriptions to the Harmons Specialty Pharmacy program. Prescribers can visit the site to see exactly what products Harmons has access to, obtain all the necessary prior authorization (PA) or other forms they need, and then write the prescription. 

Jones says the range of services they provide allows them to help people with HIV, hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, and other serious ailments requiring specialty medications. The PAs and any co-pay assistance is coordinated by the central processing center for Harmons pharmacies. Once a prescription is ready for the patient to pick up, the specialty medication is ordered from the wholesaler and the patient picks up the prescription from their normal Harmons pharmacy. Harmons is providing specialty medication services through local pharmacies, building on their existing patient/pharmacist relationships. The Harmons Specialty Pharmacy program is currently accredited through the Center for Pharmacy Practice Accreditation.

Jones says this works well for everyone. The physician knows the Harmons team will do all that is necessary to meet the manufacturer requirements and help the patient qualify for insurance coverage or any other payment assistance. The patient gets to work with the Harmons pharmacist for all training and support they need.

Jones makes it clear that building such a system is not easy. Fortunately, he says they already had a central call/processing facility, which made the process a bit easier. The service is also supported through their partnership with KloudScript, who helps provide hub support services and specialty pharmacy services software. The challenges in specialty pharmacy–access to specialty medications and access to third party plans– remain, but the program continues to grow, showing 6-fold growth after 2 years. 

Combine all this with the retail pharmacy’s wide variety of customer services and it is easy to see why Harmons pharmacies are special.

 

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