ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio -- Riesbeck Food Markets' pharmacy here is aiming to increase customer traffic and loyalty through its new Blood Pressure Club, the latest of a number of popular disease-management programs at the eight-store independent.
Initiated last week by Joseph Jeffries, a pharmacist in Riesbeck's No. 7 store, with the help of a $1,000 grant from the American Pharmaceutical Association Foundation, Washington, the club provides blood-pressure monitoring services and counseling according to guidelines set up with the help of interns from Ohio State and Ohio Northern hospitals.
Jeffries said the store hopes to drive membership in the Blood Pressure Club, which currently is open only to No. 7 shoppers, through descriptive brochures now being distributed to local doctors' offices.
Since last year all Riesbeck pharmacies have offered screenings for such conditions as high cholesterol and osteoporosis, Jeffries said, but programs at No. 7 are more "intensive," with procedures and counseling directed by the pharmacist.
Pharmacy sales have risen 20% since the programs began, according to Jeffries.
"We're trying to get the pharmacist more involved, as opposed to paying someone to come in," he said. "It shows we care about [customers] a little more than just stapling a bag and sending them home."
Jeffries added that Riesbeck planned to extend the No. 7 programs, including the Blood Pressure Club, to its other pharmacies.
"We're having meetings with all our pharmacists to make sure they understand" the programs, he said.
Jeffries said Riesbeck pharmacists were recently trained in the use of meters that measure diabetics' blood-sugar levels, and an Ohio health maintenance organization, the Health Plan of the Upper Ohio Valley, reimbursed Riesbeck for the expense.
"The cost in the long run will certainly be less," he said. "This way, they're paying $50 for the meter and $15 for the training [which takes half an hour] so they don't have to pay $20,000 down the road."
Ohio's legislature, according to Jeffries, is now considering changes in its Pharmacy Practice Act that would allow pharmacists to play more of a role in determining the course of patient therapy, altering dosages or suggesting different drugs, for example.