A&P’s mobile, refill programs simplify Rx
A&P may be a supermarket chain, but judging by its string of new health-and-wellness initiatives and strong emphasis on pharmacy, one could argue that it really is a pharmacy with a grocery store wrapped around it.
Through A&P’s network of 200 pharmacies and 605 pharmacists, the company is aggressively looking for ways to improve the health and well-being of its shoppers. And that includes improving medication adherence.
To that end, the company recently launched a new opt-in email/text-message reminder service. How it works: Patients can opt in to receive either an email or text notifying them that their prescription, which they or their doctor have called in for refill, is ready for pickup. If it isn’t picked up within three days, a reminder email or text will be sent. Also, if there are no refills left on a prescription and the doctor hasn’t called back the pharmacy within a day, a notification will be sent to the patient letting him or her know that the doctor has not yet returned the pharmacy’s call.
A&P also now offers opt-in automatic refills on maintenance prescriptions and, if patients are signed up for the email/text notification service, they will be notified when that refill is ready.
“We found it is very good for adherence. [Going forward], we are looking at some other adherence programs,” said VP pharmacy Robin Page, who noted that it was too early to provide details on future programs.
A&P also is further expanding into immunizations by certifying pharmacists, and has rolled out a free prescription delivery service in all of its pharmacies. To boost customer loyalty and help patients save money, A&P also offers its Live Better! Wellness Club, which includes savings on generic drugs, free prenatal and children’s prescription vitamins, and discounts on pet prescriptions, among other savings.
Brookshire Rx offers competitive pricing
The brand-new Fresh Health Prescription Plan from Brookshire Grocery was rolled out on March 10. It’s a comprehensive prescription plan that shoppers in the chain’s new Fresh by Brookshire’s store, which opened in March 2010, can purchase for a $10 membership fee.
“The program covers generic and brand prescriptions at very competitive pricing compared to what they’d pay with insurance and third-party plans,” said Jim Cousineau, Brookshire SVP pharmacy operations.
“It’s for shoppers who don’t have insurance or third-party plans. We thought the Fresh banner gave us the opportunity to market and test this with a little bit different clientele, and then determine whether or not this is something we could expand to our other banners,” Cousineau said.
Also at this 55,000-sq.-ft. store is an in-depth nutritional center. The goal, Cousineau explained, is to fuse the pharmacy, grocery and nutritional center as a combined health-and-wellness initiative.
In 2009, Brookshire started offering a wider selection of health-and-beauty products and established sections devoted to diabetes, sleep and therapeutic aids and supplies in a remodeled Super 1 Foods store in Lafayette, La.
The program’s success has been average, Cousineau said. However, components of the program were expanded to another store, in Denton, Texas, where it seems to be doing better, “so we may be able to have a better barometer based on this store,” he explained. If it continues to go well, the program may be extended, though he added, “I don’t know that we ever see it as a real bastion of business for us.”
What has been a success from day one are diagnostic services in four of Brookshire’s stores. These include such screenings as blood glucose and body mass index. That program is being expanded, as is an immunization program that has recently grown to cover travel vaccines and other offerings, such as the pneumococcal vaccine.
Brookshire also has a free antibiotic program and discounted generics program.
Hy-Vee finds niche in Rx, healthy eating
The typical first-time customer walking into a Hy-Vee store will probably see it as a supermarket, but what makes Hy-Vee stick out is its strong emphasis on pharmacy programs and health and wellness.
In December 2010, the chain announced it would become one of a number of retailers to participate in Pharmacy Saver, a new program offered in collaboration with UnitedHealthcare, the country’s largest Medicare Part D insurer. The program offers 366 commonly prescribed generic drugs to select Medicare beneficiaries for as little as $2 and is offered on top of Hy-Vee’s generic discount program, which offers generic prescriptions for $4 for 30-day supplies and $10 for 90-day supplies.
Pharmacy Saver adds to Hy-Vee’s growing list of pharmacy offerings, including the chain’s partnership with Omaha, Neb.-based specialty pharmacy provider Amber Pharmacy to provide services that also would take advantage of Hy-Vee’s diet and nutrition programs. The partnership, officially a joint venture with Amber called Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions, also has its headquarters in Omaha and offers phone service, personal care coordinators and the option of having specialty medications made available for pickup at a Hy-Vee pharmacy or delivered to a patient’s home, office or other location.
Healthy eating is another area where Hy-Vee has staked out a niche for itself. It marked February as American Heart Month with a special advertising circular that contained nutrition information, shopping tips and heart-healthy recipes from Hy-Vee chefs, created in coordination with the chain’s 150 retail dietitians. The chain also began experimenting with a healthy checkstand assortment it calls “Blue Zone Lanes” (see page 86).
Hy-Vee’s efforts have won it recognition from the Food Marketing Institute, which awarded the chain one of its 2010 Maximizing People Potential awards at the FMI Human Resources/Training Development Conference in Baltimore in October in recognition for its healthy lifestyle program, which encourages employees to manage their health and rewards them for active participation.