Aurora designs DME retail for pharmacies

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- Aurora Healthcare, already a giant hospital system in Wisconsin, has subscribed to the growing trend of hospitals jumping back into the durable medical equipment business.
Aurora Healthcare, through its for-profit subsidiary Aurora Healthcare Ventures, has busily built and acquired pharmacies throughout Wisconsin. In total, the system has 140 pharmacies, approximately one-third of which are stand-alone locations.
Now the system is in the process of adding DME to those stand-alone stores.
"Part of the exercise is standardizing our merchandising approach to the communities that we serve," said Bill Frodl, director of retail services and merchandising for Aurora Healthcare Ventures. "We needed to come up with a basic home healthcare offering in those locations because I saw so much inconsistency from place to place."
Frodl designed a basic 28-foot home medical display featuring products in seven categories: bath safety, mobility, personal care, compression hosiery, professional foot care, orthopedic support and home diagnostics.
"Our design is not intended to be the be-all and end-all answer to each and every one of our patients' needs but to have a core competency of products in those pharmacies," Frodl added.
Recently however, Aurora Ventures has decided to expand its offering in some of its larger stores to create a hub and spoke network. Frodl hopes to select 10 locations as hubs and to offer a larger selection of products and to support the smaller locations in its area.
"With that you have all the things that go along with it -- getting skilled people, certified fitters and other folks to make this happen," he said. "Some of the proposed sites are former independent pharmacies that already have skilled staffs, so we are going to try to leverage that more under the Aurora banner."
Establishing a strong Aurora banner is Frodl's goal in all of this. He wants to establish a chain mentality among the Aurora Pharmacies, which he feels will attract more business from outside and internal referral sources.
"There's still a lot of work that needs to be done in terms of integrating all the systems between the hospitals, the medical clinics and the pharmacies in terms of who is referring patients to what sites," he said. "There is still a lot of coordination going on."
Aurora Healthcare is Wisconsin's largest employee. It operates 12 acute care hospitals, 100 medical clinics and a visiting nurse's service, along with its 140 pharmacies.