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Free screenings help break barriers to care


With the advent of complimentary health screenings available through a growing number of retail health fairs — such as CVS Health, Walmart and Sam’s Club and ShopRite, to name a few — more and more consumers are learning for the first time that they may be diabetic or prediabetic from their neighborhood pharmacist as opposed to their primary care doctors.

(To view the full Diabetes Report, click here.)

And that’s not a bad thing. Rather, it’s a concrete example of how a retail pharmacy can serve the larger health ecosystem by capturing the attention of patients who would not otherwise have had an occasion to learn what their blood sugar levels could mean to their overall health, and encouraging them to pursue a doctor’s care.

“Despite the increased number of Americans who have become insured over the past five years through the Affordable Care Act, there are still barriers to quality care, such as cost and access, for many patients,” David Casey, VP workforce strategies and chief diversity officer at CVS Health, shared with Drug Store News. In September, CVS Health hosted its Project Health initiative across 10 markets. Project Health provides a series of free screenings to patients in those communities where complimentary health services and the corresponding education consultations can have a significant impact on people.

“This year, we expect to deliver nearly $8 million worth of free health services through our Project Health events,” Casey said. “We strongly encourage participants to visit a physician now that they know their screening results.”

In the 10 years CVS Health has been hosting Project Health, the retailer has delivered more than $112 million worth of free healthcare services to nearly 872,000 people. And in this time, as many as 26% of those who were screened for diabetes had abnormal glucose readings and were counseled by a healthcare practitioner.

Walmart last year held a health fair that made it into the record books with more than 280,000 screenings (including blood pressure, glucose and vision screenings) done in one day, alerting as many as 3,000 customers that they may need to see a doctor about a possible diabetes diagnosis.

“As more than 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store, [we’re] uniquely positioned to provide accessible and affordable health care that helps busy families live better,” said George Riedl, SVP and president, health and wellness at Walmart U.S. “These screenings provide customers with a basic yet vital understanding of their general health condition and ways to improve it.”

Walmart’s club channel division Sam’s Club holds free health screenings every month and in September focused specifically on raising awareness around diabetes. “As the prevalence of diabetes rises, it is more important than ever for Americans to know if they are at risk for this chronic disease,” noted Jill Turner-Mitchael, SVP consumables and health and wellness for Sam’s Club. “Glucose testing is a great first step in this process.”

ShopRite last month announced it would host its own free blood-glucose screenings with prescription benefits manager Paramount Rx in November as part of National Diabetes Awareness Month.

As part of this, ShopRite provides a full suite of health-and-wellness offerings to its customers, including blood pressure monitoring stations and, in many locations, dedicated registered dietitians who are on-hand in store to assist customers with their nutritional needs via personal consultations and store tours.

“Community events like these give us the unique opportunity to raise awareness and help our customers make informed, educated lifestyle choices when it comes to their preventing and treating diseases, such as diabetes,” noted Natalie Menza, manager health and wellness at ShopRite.

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