Retailers focus on collaboration, community
As part of a panel at the recent Drug Store News Industry Issues Summit, officials from Walmart and Kroger shared the ways the two organizations go about taking a collaborative approach to health care.
Walmart drives community-based solutions
Walmart is aiming to improve health outcomes with a dual focus on collaboration and community, according to the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer’s senior director of health and wellness transformation Alex Hurd, who described three ongoing experiments to engage consumers.
Wellness Days: Walmart’s Wellness Days program has proven that consumers will engage with in-store opportunities for free screenings and immunizations from nurses and pharmacists, Hurd said. This program produces some 300,000 screenings each time Walmart executes one of the events.
“Now the evolution of that is how do you create relationships within the community that you can then use to drive referrals and follow-ups?” Hurd said. “We have worked on this at the national level with partnerships, such as with the Americans Diabetes Association, which follows up with customers and with patients on our behalf.”
Accelerated efforts: Walmart also is conducting tests that build on the Wellness Days approach. “We’re partnering with the University of Texas, with UnitedHealthcare and with several local organizations. We’re taking the Wellness Days concept but executing it on a much more frequent basis — once a week, getting people into follow-up services, whether that’s nutrition education or diabetes prevention programs. We’re really learning how to more effectively do community health.”
Food focus: Walmart is participating in an innovative, multiretailer health-and-wellness effort through the Consumer Goods Forum that involves partnerships with other stakeholders. An experiment in Hagerstown, Md., helps drive collaboration and improve diets and lifestyles in the community. It includes such retailers as Target and Walgreens Boots Alliance, as well as such CPG partners as Danone and Johnson & Johnson.
“The addition of food is something very interesting,” he said. “Let’s face it, food and lifestyle are big aspects of our health. If we can create easier solutions for educating customers around healthy food and healthy nutrition solutions, that could have profound impact.”
The Little Clinic emphasizes care coordination
Sharing information and coordinating care for the benefit of patients are both a necessity and a challenge in today’s health system. This is a big area of focus for The Little Clinic/Kroger, and plays an important role in how the company interacts with associates and partners.
“We’re trying to simplify health care at our more than 220 clinics around the country and our 2,200 pharmacies,” said Marc Watkins, chief medical officer and vice president at The Little Clinic/Kroger. He said one of the hurdles involves interoperability of health information.
“One of the important parts about coordinating care is information. How do we share that ubiquitously for the patient, not for the health system, not for The Little Clinic, not for Kroger, but more importantly for the patient?” Watkins said. “That’s coordinating care, getting information at the right time, not two weeks later when it can’t be acted upon. Information in real time is beneficial to the patient — a pharmacist receiving an alert so that they can make a real-time decision for a patient — or it could be with our nurse practitioners or our dietitians. That coordination of care with information is important.”