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Publix aims to exceed patient expectations.

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Outstanding customer service and involvement in the communities it serves have long been recognized as pivotal factors in making Publix Super Markets Inc. one of the most highly regarded food retailers in the United States. They are equally evident in its pharmacy operations, which extend to 971 of the company's 1,103 stores in six Southern states.

"Our customer service success and accolades are twofold," says director of media and community relations Maria Brous. "First, we are company owners. We have skin in the game. Our success is directly tied to how well we manage our company resources and how well we take care of our customers. While many competitors have tried to emulate us, the difference is the Publix people and our culture. These two things cannot be replicated. It's instilled within our culture to provide premier customer service, to build relationships with our customers, and to meet and exceed their expectations at every level within every department.

"Publix is a great place to work. We believe that taking care of our associates will lead them to take care of their customers, and taking their of their customers takes care of our business."

Built into the company's DNA by founder George Jenkins 85 years ago, the philosophy is ideally suited to community pharmacy, where effective interaction between pharmacists and patients can be as important as the medications dispensed.

"The role of our Publix pharmacists is to provide the best care for their customers, which includes engagement with such patient care activities as immunizations (which we administer), medication changes, medication therapy management and medication adherence," comments Brous. "Our Publix pharmacists also conduct biometric screenings, which include lipid panel (total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglycerides), glucose, blood pressure and body mass index tests."

Initiated just last month, the biometric screenings are available with out an appointment to people over 18 years old. Some of the tests are free; others cost as much as $45. Results are provided within minutes and are accompanied by a consultation with a pharmacist.

"As both a supermarket and a pharmacy, we are uniquely positioned to assist our customers in their overall health and wellness goals," says Brous. "Biometric screenings are an additional service we provide to our customers and associates in a convenient location. We respect the time of our customers and continue to build on a strong relationship between patient and pharmacy."

The ability of Publix pharmacists to connect with customers has made the company the top-rated prescription drug provider in overall satisfaction in the supermarket channel for the fifth consecutive year, according to J.D. Power and Associates, whose annual survey provides pharmacy-specific performance comparisons among brick-and-mortar retailers. The 2014 study measured prescription ordering, store performance, nonpharmacist staff, cost competitiveness and store pharmacists. Publix ranked No. 1 in three of the five categories.

"Being recognized by our pharmacy customers in this manner validates our focus on the customer experience within our stores," notes Brous. "We are committed to exceeding our customers' expectations. We are proud of our pharmacy staff for delivering on this commitment each and every day."

Success has not made Publix complacent. The company is determined to stay on the cutting edge of community pharmacy at a time when the members of the profession are being called on to assume a bigger role in health care. Specialty pharmacy is one example where Publix is stepping up.

"We dispense specialty medications, both at our traditional pharmacy locations and via mail order from our specialty pharmacy facility," Brous says. "All Publix pharmacists are able to teach patients how to administer medications that require self-injection. We have specialized pharmacy staff dedicated to assisting patients on specialty medications with insurance billing, payment options and clinical support, as well as answering any questions they have about the medications."

Publix is using technology to extend the reach of its pharmacies.

"In January 2014 we introduced our Sync Your Refills program," comments Brous. "It is designed to respect the time of our customers and continue to build on a strong relationship between patient and pharmacist. Prescription synchronization assists in medication adherence for happier, healthier customers."
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Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Aug 10, 2015
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