Walgreens Looks to the Future for POS Systems, Healthcare Innovations, Says Company’s CIO

Prescription Drugs

Walgreens, one of the largest national drugstore chains in the United States, has big plans, according to the company’s Chief Information, Innovation and Improvement Officer, Tim Theriault. Namely, Walgreens executives aim to make the company a leader in healthcare technology.

Walgreens, which operates more than 8,200 stores across the U.S., is looking to change the way pharmacies operate in the country by offering mobile payment technology, online capabilities, and expanded pharmacy and health services.

Most notably, the company recently introduced its online Walgreens Cloud EHR (or electronic healthcare record), which Theriault referred to as “the largest roll-out of its kind.” The EHR uses the Oracle Healthcare Data Repository to allow the chain’s pharmacists and healthcare partners to access customer information in accordance with HIPAA regulations.

Since 2009, Theriault has managed the chain’s innovation solutions division, which has helped to cut costs all while creating new sources of revenue, and he’s also helped overhaul the health and retail IT infrastructure for Walgreens.

One improvement Theriault suggested early on was the need for standardized point-of-sale technology in all Walgreens stores. Over the course of 14 months during 2011 and 2012, the company replaced its POS and payments systems.

An accurate pharmacy point-of-sale system is crucial for any store, especially given how susceptible to burglary some of these corner shops can be. For example, a Walgreens in Yuma, AZ, was robbed on Dec. 1, with the suspect threatening the clerk with a handgun in order to steal items behind the counter.

Walgreens and CVS stores in Cleveland, OH, also experienced shoplifting incidents in the past week, and other robberies around the country have resulted in theft of cash, electronics, and prescription pain medications.

“Shrinkage is a big problem for any retail environment, implementing POS technologies will help store management not only understand the cost of the shrinkage, but curtail it,” says Mike Gross, VP of Sales and Marketing for Retail Management Solutions, the leading point-of-sale solutions provider to independent pharmacies. “Though you hear on the news the tragic burglaries that take place in retail pharmacies, employees account for a larger percentage of retail shrinkage. That’s where solutions such as ours can help, for example, requiring fingerprint log-in at the register holds employees accountable for their actions during sales transactions.”

Walgreens also introduced a customer loyalty program that now has 82 million active members. Balance Rewards gives customers the chance to earn redeemable points from purchases and health-related efforts done in-store, such as immunizations and blood pressure tests.

Walgreens also continues to support Apple Pay, which other chains Rite Aid and CVS dumped after just a few days. Theriault said that Walgreens will also introduce new, more secure chip-and-pin technology in 2015.

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