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Rite Aid, Penn State Hershey Health System to partner on health program

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Rite Aid Corp. and Penn State Hershey Health System are partnering on the former's Rite Aid Health Alliance initiative.

John Standley, Rite Aid chairman and CEO, and Harold L. Paz, CEO of Penn State Hershey, will announce details during a news conference at 1 p.m. today at the Rite Aid pharmacy at 337 W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey.

Unveiled earlier this year, Rite Aid Health Alliance provides comprehensive care and support to individuals with chronic and poly-chronic health conditions and helps them achieve health improvement goals established by their physicians. The move into health care management is credited with Rite Aid's financial turnaround.

“In Central Pennsylvania and beyond, Penn State Hershey has long been known as one of the pre-eminent healthcare systems in the country, and like Rite Aid, they share our commitment to providing access to affordable and high-quality health care,” Standley said in a news release. “We are especially pleased to be working with their physicians to bring Rite Aid Health Alliance to patients in the Hershey and greater Harrisburg area. Together, we will help our patients manage their conditions and improve their overall health and well being.”

Rite Aid’s integrated care model is a first for the drugstore industry, the release said, because it "uniquely leverages the combined expertise of community pharmacists, who are one of the most accessible and trusted resources among healthcare providers, along with specially trained in-store healthcare coaches."

Penn State Hershey physicians can refer patients who they feel would benefit from additional coaching in areas such as medication management and meal and exercise planning. All members of the care team will communicate regularly with physicians in a true partnership to improve patients’ overall health, the release said.

“Partnering with Rite Aid’s Health Alliance program is another way in which Penn State Hershey can ensure our patients receive quality care in the most appropriate, cost-effective setting,” Paz said. “This program serves as an innovative example of how an academic medical center can work with other community healthcare providers to help patients with chronic conditions access a full range of resources to help them manage their health.”

Patients with chronic conditions -- such as congestive heart failure, COPD, high cholesterol or diabetes -- can be recommended to the program by their primary-care physicians. Rite Aid pharmacists and health care coaches work with the physician and patient to improve the patient's overall health by developing an action plan with tasks and goals, the release said.

Rite Aid kicked off the program in Buffalo and has established partnerships with High Point, N.C.-based Cornerstone Health Care and Glendale, Calif.-based Apollo Medical Holdings Inc. to provide services in select Rite Aid pharmacies in Greensboro and High Point, N.C., and the greater Los Angeles area.

Rite Aid will provide the care coaches through a partnership with Health Dialog, a leading provider of health care patient support, analytics and decision support. Health Dialog coaches will be available in Rite Aid pharmacies and will specialize in behavior change to help patients address lifestyle health issues, the release stated.

The full range of services available to patients participating in Rite Aid Health Alliance are medication compliance support; comprehensive medication reviews and reconciliation; nutrition and weight management information; disease education; exercise coaching; and tobacco cessation support.

Records of all interactions, which occur in Rite Aid pharmacies, as well as updates from physicians, are stored electronically. Patient profiles, including medications and lab results, also will be stored electronically.

Headquartered in East Pennsboro Township, Rite Aid is one of the nation's largest drugstore chains. The company trades its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol RAD.

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