Drug Channels: Cardinal Health buys specialty distributor Metro Medical
Blending pharmacy, nutritional expertise
Now in its 110th year, H-E-B is a pioneer in food-store pharmacy retailing. Beginning with its first in-store prescription center in the 1950s, the chain now offers full pharmacy departments in 245 of its more than 350 stores, according to its SVP pharmacy Craig Norman.
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Those pharmacies offer an expanding menu of immunizations, health screenings and long-term disease management programs. Through its ongoing “Second Saturday” health-and-wellness initiative, H-E-B pharmacies offer free screenings for blood glucose and blood pressure, as well as cholesterol testing for under $4 on the second Saturday of every month. Also available for $29.99: quarterly A1C testing for diabetics to help them manage their conditions long-term, and a complete cholesterol blood test measuring HDL and LDL levels.
Diabetes is a prime focus of its health-and-wellness efforts. Based in a state where more than 10% of adults have the condition, H-E-B offers diabetes monitoring and patient education, as well as its own line of glucose monitors and testing strips under the H-E-B inControl label. Supplementing those efforts: the “My H-E-B Health & Wellness” program, which includes weekly meal plans and shopping lists for healthier eating, shopping tours with dietitians, exercise tips and a shelf-tag program to identify products for special dietary needs.
“Our focus is to continue to develop our outreach to customers, building on being recognized as a destination for health and wellness,” Norman told DSN.
Among the company’s newest innovations: free or low-cost prescription deliveries in many Texas markets. The pharmacy delivery service is now available weekdays in nearly 100 H-E-B stores.
“For two or more prescriptions, this service is completely free, and it’s only $5 if the order is for one prescription,” the company noted. Deliveries normally occur within four hours or less, according to H-E-B’s pharmacy division.
Expanding digital resources
Kmart has diligently worked to ensure that its pharmacies are the outlets of choice for customers. “Our pharmacists take a different approach,” VP of public relations and member communications Jamie Stein said. “Kmart pharmacists are member- and patient-centric, providing differentiated personalized service. They are well connected in their communities, are medication therapy management-trained and immunization-certified. We are focused on healthcare content, products and personalized attention that, when combined, provide ‘Service with a Healthy Dose of Care,’” she said.
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Among the more unique offerings at Kmart pharmacies are a free flavoring for liquid prescriptions or over-the counter medications; free, no-appointment immunization screenings; the Shop Your Way pharmacy rewards program, giving patients who fill five prescriptions $10 in reward points that can be redeemed for non-pharmacy merchandise at any Kmart or Sears store or online; and an auto refill service that is helping the company move towards offering full medication synchronization.
Last year, Kmart pharmacy expanded its offering by entered the specialty pharmacy sector through a partnership with Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy.
This year, Stein said, Kmart is introducing a mobile app that makes it easier for pharmacy patients to manage their prescriptions on the go. The app will remind users when a prescription is ready for pickup, when to take medication and when a refill is due.
In an effort to make its pharmacists more accessible, Kmart recently added an Ask a Pharmacist feature to kmartpharmacy.com, allowing patients to get free advice 24 hours a day.
The company’s position in the discount space also has allowed it to partner with a variety of other online health-and-wellness providers — including JillianMichaels.com, Lose It!, Snap Fitness, Care.com, Doctor on Demand and American Well.