Supervalu: a solution for the sick, a destination for the healthy

MINNEAPOLIS —It’s the customer who needs to make healthy lifestyle choices. With that in mind, Supervalu Pharmacy has helped to set the table so that its customers can avail themselves of all the education and guidance they’ll need—on their terms—to make those healthy lifestyle choices.

“We want to become a solution center for the sick [and] a destination for the healthy,” Chris Dimos, president of pharmacy at Supervalu, told Drug Store News. “We work very closely in the pharmacy group with our grocery teams to deliver a whole health-focused shopping experience.”

Supervalu’s health-and-wellness offerings cut across three platforms: diabetes care, medication therapy management and preventative care, which encompasses immunizations, weight management and health screenings.

Patients with diabetes can sign up for a special education session, followed by a tour of the foodside of the store conducted by a pharmacist and a dietician. The purpose: to show people with diabetes how to shop heathy. The store tours are part of a comprehensive six-month standardized education program that features personal health assessments, a group education class and assistance with behavioral change counseling, such as the feelings and emotions associated with managing diabetes.

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“We initiated this program in Jewel-Osco about 10 years ago,” Dimos said. “We’ve expanded that program over the years. Right now it’s a two-hour program that begins in the pharmacy where we talk about the importance of maintaining heart health in diabetes,” he said, and ends with a 90-minute guided tour of the supermarket.

On average, between eight and 10 customers participate in each tour. “You want to keep it somewhat intimate so that people can feel free to ask questions,” Dimos said. Dimos said next year the plan is to expand the program to patients with pre-diabetes. “We feel that our pharmacists have a great impact on slowing the rising rates of diabetes, especially in children and adolescents,” he said.

The tours currently are offered through more than 400 Supervalu locations, reaching patients in 22 of the 28 states where Supervalu operates today. In addition to those store tours, and as part of the general education, Supervalu pharmacists can help patients understand how to operate their blood-glucose monitor, how to inject insulin and how to avoid low blood-sugar reactions.

Supervalu’s second health-and-wellness platform is medication therapy management, a service that Dimos expected will become a key part of managing better outcomes in the years to come. “We’re really excited about the growth of MTM,” he said. “[Not only] with some of the recent legislation happening around promotion of MTM, but also around patients understanding the value of managing their medications.” Supervalu has been offering an MTM component for more than five years, Dimos noted.

Supervalu’s third health-and-wellness platform centers on such preventative care as immunizations. “Our thought process around immunizations is: ‘How do we remove some of the barriers that customers have when they look at how to [pursue] a healthier life?’ We really look at immunizations as not only an expanding role for the pharmacist, but really [an articulation] of the value of immunizations to an overall healthy lifestyle,” Dimos said.

Immunizations represent a significant initiative for Supervalu, Dimos said. “We want to make sure that it’s a service that is looked on as a walk-in and not an appointment,” he said. “We want it to be part of the workflow.”

In addition to H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines, Supervalu offers a host of other vaccines, including immunizations for tetanus, pneumonia, meningitis, shingles, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and cervical cancer.

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