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Walmart’s Hurd discusses role retail can play in health on Kantar podcast

BY David Salazar

Kantar Retail projects that by 2025, stores will be the site of more general practice medicine than a doctor’s office, and that CPG companies and retailers who position themselves for this will come out ahead. In an effort to understand how retailers are responding to the shift in setting for health-and-wellness, Kantar Retail vice president of retail insights Brian Owens spoke with Alex Hurd, Walmart’s senior director of health and wellness on the latest episode of the Kantar Retail Sound Bites podcast.

The conversation, which also included Kantar chief knowledge officer Bryan Gildenberg, focused on how Walmart is addressing lack of healthcare access in underserved areas, suggestions the retailer makes to help manage health-related expenses, how Walmart is adapting to a changing health landscape and how its pharmacies meet the needs of an aging patient population. Hurd also looks forwards, highlighting the services and future investments Walmart will need to make healthcare delivery frictionless.

Ultimately, Hurd noted that patients are having difficulty managing recent increases in out-of-pocket healthcare expenses while acknowledging that despite the United States spending nearly a fifth of its gross domestic product on healthcare, outcomes haven’t been improving. In this light, Hurd said that Walmart would be focused on putting patients first — which he said requires some imagination on the part of the industry if it wants to truly focus on patient needs, particularly with regard to where care takes place.

“There’s a lot of talk in the industry about wanting to put the patient first and patient-centric healthcare. And when you listen closely, it’s always within the existing framework of the healthcare system,” Hurd said. “We leave those conversations feeling that they’re just a little bit disingenuous, because if you really want to put the patient first, why would you do it within a venue that a patient might frequent once or twice a year?

Hurd noted that the frequency with which patients visit a grocery store positions retail as well for health-and-wellness offerings.

“If we really want to focus on the patient, then I think what we need is a fundamental paradigm shift and let’s actually go as an industry to places where people are congregating with great frequency,” he said. “Honestly, retail is one of those few places where people are spending a large chunk of their time.”

To listen to the full podcast, click here

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Kroger uploads Google Cloud Platform to maintain digital edge

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Wednesday announced its cloud computing portfolio is expanding with Google Cloud Platform.

"The adoption of Google Cloud Platform signals our commitment to positioning Kroger as an industry leader for digital programs such as ship-to-home and home delivery," stated Chris Hjelm, Kroger chief information officer. "Kroger Technology has been working to accelerate our ability to deliver our business the tools and technology-enabled services that support growth as outlined in our Restock Kroger Plan. The expansion of our cloud computing portfolio will be a foundational cornerstone to current and future initiatives that will drive measurable business value by advancing Kroger's ability to offer the digital and e-commerce services our customers want most."

GCP's portfolio of products, services and tools enables its customers to modernize their operations for today's digital world. The addition of GCP provides a new pattern that will be available for Kroger and its subsidiaries. Kroger now operates agreements with Google, Microsoft and Pivotal. This portfolio brings a new level of capability that will help Kroger Technology accelerate delivery of new technology-based innovations to better serve customers and to grow the business.

To manage the portfolio, Kroger is creating a cloud enablement team. This talent will focus on different aspects of cloud computing: product management; private and public cloud engineering and operations; cloud architecture; code infrastructure; automation; and security architecture. This team will be comprised of specialized talent, including Kroger Technology associates and external recruits.

In 2016, Computerworld named Kroger Technology as one of the "100 best places to work in IT."
 

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‘SNL’ head writer to headline NACDS Foundation Dinner

BY David Salazar

ARLINGTON, Va. — Attendees of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation Dinner this year will get to hear from Saturday Night Live’s head writer Colin Jost. The “Weekend Update” co-anchor will headline the event, at which the foundation will present its 2017 Excellence in Patient Care award to a public health leader who has been integral to Houston’s hurricane recovery.

Dr. Umair Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health in Texas and president of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, will be receiving the award for his work on behalf of the 4.5 million he serves in his county. Beyond hurricane response, his organization has implemented public-private partnership aimed at preventing such illnesses as Zika virus and tuberculosis through emerging technology. His department this fall introduces mobile medical, dental, nutritional assistance, environmental health and pet adoption units in Harris County in an effort to bring the department services to the community, NACDS said.

“The supporters and collaborators of the NACDS Foundation will share a truly special evening. We will recognize amazing and inspirational public health leadership as demonstrated by Dr. Umair Shah and his team,” NACDS Foundation president Kathleen Jaeger said. “We also will have the chance to share time and laughter with friends and colleagues, as we appreciate the talents of Colin Jost. The evening’s program will honor dedication to the highest standards of public health stewardship, and an appreciation of the many facets of health and wellness — which of course includes good humor.”

The NACDS Foundation Dinner is set to take place Nov. 29 at New York City’s Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel. For more information, click here.

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