Albertsons is proving that the sum can indeed be greater than the parts. Following the 2015 merger of Albertsons and Safeway — both of which had long and distinguished records of providing health-and-wellness services — the combined company is continuing that tradition. It has expanded several of its pharmacy- and health-related offerings as it shares best practices across the company and introduces new programs companywide.
“Albertsons is proud of the work it has accomplished in pharmacy and health and wellness in the last two years,” said Mark Panzer, SVP pharmacy, health and wellness at the Boise, Idaho-based supermarket operator. “Our teams have developed and grown programs that continue the great work established in years prior and keep our customers as the focus for all that we do moving forward.”
Albertsons operates about 2,327 stores, most of which have pharmacies, fewer than 19 banners in 35 states and Washington, D.C. In March, the company was said to have been in talks to acquire another banner — the fast-growing Sprouts Farmers Markets, which does not have pharmacies but has a strong health-and-wellness positioning.
Among the key developments at Albertsons since the merger with Safeway has been an expanded pharmacy practice that includes medication administration. The company’s pharmacies have implemented the protocols to administer more than 25 professionally administered medications in all states where the company operates and state law allows.
Albertsons also has expanded its specialty care services, which were recently awarded the Specialty at Retail Accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Health Care, beyond Safeway locations to all Albertsons pharmacies. A central team in Boise works with patients’ local pharmacy teams to provide services for their specialty medications. These support services include medication coordination, such as prior authorization support, funding from foundations and manufacturer co-pay assistance programs, clinical pharmacist support and refill reminders.
Meanwhile the company’s travel health program, which had been established at Albertsons pharmacy locations, has been expanded to include all banners. Through the program, a physician specializing in travel medicine provides vaccination recommendations to patients planning to travel overseas, who are then sent to see their local pharmacist. The pharmacist administers all of the necessary immunizations, fills prescriptions as needed and counsels the patient on safe travel practices.
Other pharmacy initiatives include programs to improve the company’s Medicare Part D Star ratings with its managed care partners, which Panzer said directly benefits the company’s pharmacy patients, their experience in the pharmacy and their health. Albertsons also has expanded the wellness services available in its in-store clinics across banners, partnering with such health providers as Quest Diagnostics, Lean for Life, Baylor Scott & White Health and Edwards-Elmhurst Health. “Our partners are chosen thoughtfully in order to provide complimentary services to our customers that are useful, convenient and connect them to a broader network of targeted health services that may otherwise have barriers to access,” Panzer said.
On the nutrition front, Albertsons has debuted a new in-store dietitian program called Answers in the Aisles, through which registered dietitians provide nutrition education, suggest simple meal planning ideas and conduct educational events. In addition, the company’s Eating Healthy with Diabetes program has been expanded to more than 400 locations throughout the company. It offers customers a free, guided store tour with dietitians who help them make healthier food choices, set goals, read nutrition labels and learn about mindful eating. The tours conclude at the pharmacy, where specially trained pharmacists discuss additional programs and assistance to manage diabetes, including free testing.