Inside This Issue - News
At Hy-Vee, stores are viewed as ‘total wellness centers’
June 29th, 2009
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Supermarkets with pharmacies are in the ideal position to provide their customers with comprehensive health and wellness programs, executives at Hy-Vee Inc. say.
“It’s about how we make people well, how they live well,” says Helen Eddy, assistant vice president of pharmacy and pharmacy training at the chain of 197 supermarkets and 26 stand-alone drug stores.
“We are well positioned to do this,” she stresses. “We see our stores as total wellness centers.”
By offering a variety of health care screenings in its pharmacies and employing dietitians in its stores across seven Midwestern states, Hy-Vee has been able to create one of the industry’s most effective health and wellness offerings.
The programs, executives say, have helped thousands of patients while being used internally to help the company drive down its own health care costs.
Hy-Vee employees and their families have access to free screenings and low-cost preventive services. Employees who get biometric screenings and wellness assessments and who participate in wellness activities receive between $250 and $620 off their insurance premiums.
Vice president of human resources Sheila Laing says Hy-Vee hopes to trim $2 million from its costs over the next three years.
Working hand in hand, the supermarket chain’s pharmacies and nutritionists have been able to identify patients with certain health conditions and set them on a path to manage those conditions better.
“It is a powerful partnership,” Eddy says. “Employer groups see value in what we are offering.”
Employers and insurers particularly like the fact that Hy-Vee offers biometric screenings in 150 of its pharmacies.
Being able to visit the local supermarket to get a health screening, Eddy notes, is much more convenient than having a team of screeners come into the workplace, and in this way more people are led to seek out the service.
Once patients are screened and their disease state is identified, they can see a dietitian to ensure that they are eating the right foods.
Even patients seeking help to stop smoking or with conditions that do not necessarily have an apparent food component to them can be helped by seeing a dietician, Eddy says.
As Hy-Vee’s health and wellness efforts continue to evolve, the chain is rolling out a series of new programs that emphasize such topics as weight loss and developing a healthier lifestyle.