Save Mart promises fast, affordable Rx
The 59-year-old Save Mart supermarket chain more than doubled its store count in 2007 with the purchase of 132 Albertsons stores, but entered something of a dormant period since then. Save Mart now operates 241 stores in California and Nevada, down from a peak of 255 in 2009, and 114 in-store pharmacies, down from 115 in 2009.
But despite the recession-induced lull in growth, it continues to launch innovative new programs, such as the “19-minute promise.” The unique program gives customers who have to wait longer than 19 minutes for a prescription to be filled a free “dinner and a movie” in the form a $10 gift card for a food purchase and a free movie coupon for DVD rentals at its Redbox kiosks.
Save Mart said the offer is designed to show that its pharmacies “are faster than some of our competition” and can have a prescription filled in the time it takes for a customer to drop off their prescription, do their shopping and return to pick it up.
“It’s another program that creates more value for our customers and lets them know we care about customer service,” said Robert Vaughan, Save Mart’s senior director of pharmacy operations. “We know our customers’ time is valuable, and we stand behind that commitment.” Before launching the program, all Save Mart stores were integrated on a common software platform, and some higher-volume stores implemented robotic filling systems.
For cost-conscious shoppers, Save Mart has its own Top Care private-label brand of over-the-counter products at prices lower than most name brands. Pharmacies also accept prescription assistance program cards, including the Nevada Drug Card and the California Rx card, which provide discounts to customers during hard economic times. And Save Mart publishes a free quarterly magazine called In Good Health that offers customers helpful hints on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
K-VA-T’s holistic method fuses health, Rx
Offering a holistic approach to health is the goal of K-VA-T Food City stores, integrating pharmacy, food and good living.
To this end, last spring the chain launched NuVal, a nutritional scoring system that helps consumers make better food choices. The system was launched in all stores, and according to Don Clark, VP pharmacy services, it’s doing very well.
“We feel a responsibility to the people who shop in our stores and eat the products they buy from us,” Clark said. “We felt NuVal made it easy for the customers to understand the nutritional content of the foods they eat.”
The pharmacy also is a vital part of Food City’s health-and-wellness plans, Clark said.
“Our pharmacist is always in our stores ready to answer questions on healthy living plans and helping patients with information not only on their medications, but also on the way they live and eat,” Clark explained.
Food City also has a registered dietitian and a nurse whose title is director of healthy initiatives, both of whom were hired with the goal of helping customers live a healthy lifestyle. Both have worked very closely with the NuVal system, as well as with local doctors and health centers.
“We want our customers to be healthy because healthy people live longer, and they’ll shop our stores for more time. We recognize that as a [corporate] citizen, we want to be the destination that people seek out, understanding that when they go to Food City, we have alternatives that will help them live a healthy lifestyle,” Clark pointed out.
Every one of Food City’s pharmacies also has a pharmacist who is registered to provide immunizations — anything from shingles to tetanus and flu vaccines — throughout the year.
Customers of Food City’s pharmacies can join a prescription discount club that offers $4 generics and discounts on around 5,000 drugs. It also allows customers to earn discounts on over-the-counter medications on select diabetic products. “It’s a real saver for people that don’t have insurance or are underinsured,” Clark said.
Schnucks tackles chronic conditions
On top of its 101 in-store pharmacies, Schnucks last year opened four specialty pharmacies, offering specialized services to patients.
The pharmacies offer services for patients living with such chronic conditions as HIV, cancer, multiple sclerosis and autoimmune diseases, as well as for people recovering from organ transplants, said company spokesman Paul Simon. “It’s for patients who require special attention and hard-to-source medication,” he added.
Of the four specialty pharmacies, two are within Schnucks stores, beside the regular pharmacy, and two are stand-alone stores in medical offices. The stores have been introduced over the past two years, and more could be introduced going forward.
The specialty pharmacies run largely by appointment because these patients typically need a lot of counseling and one-on-one services. “The goal is to make life a little bit easier for the patient,” Simon explained, “with lots of counseling, advice [and] information on how to manage their condition, drugs, insurance, etc.”
Free home delivery and refill-reminder phone calls are two other services the specialty pharmacies provide. In Schnucks regular pharmacies, the chain continues its successful programs of $4 generic drugs and free antibiotics and prenatal vitamins. Immunizations also draw customers.
Within the regular pharmacies, Schnucks offers diabetes education through its certified diabetes educator pharmacists. As word spreads, more diabetes patients are taking advantage of this program, Simon pointed out.
Another service the pharmacies offer is a vision-screening test. “It’s no substitution for a trip to the eye doctor, but it’s a good indication if there should be a trip to the eye doctor — and it’s free,” Simon said. The stores also provide information on local eye doctors for patients who need it.
And finally, the Schnucks stores are a hub for a twice-weekly mammography van run by Barnes-Jewish Hospital.