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Hy-Vee eyes personalization as the next pharmacy frontier

Hy-Vee’s pharmacists work hand-in-hand with its in-store registered dietitians to provide health and nutrition counseling for patients, said Kristin Williams, senior vice president and chief health officer at Hy-Vee, who oversees the company’s health-and-wellness components and pharmacy operations.

“If someone is newly diagnosed, we might be one of the first people to see them after they come from their provider’s office,” she said. “We can schedule a consultation with the dietitian, and their offices are right next to the pharmacy in that shared space. They are a cohesive team.”

If Hy-Vee has its way, the individualized service that the company is known for in its pharmacies will become even more personalized before too long. Hy-Vee is looking closely at opportunities to be on the cutting edge of pharmacogenomics, the emerging area of treatment in which medications are tailored to individual genetic makeup. “We are excited about all possible future endeavors that deal with personalized medicine,” Williams said.

In the meantime, Hy-Vee is dealing with many of the same challenges facing the overall drug store industry. Communicating the value of pharmacy remains one of the biggest pharmacy-related issues, Williams said. All casts in the supply chain, from health plans, pharmacy benefit managers, distributors, manufacturers and pharmacies, collectively work to provide services that enhance patients’ lives through treatment, mitigation or prevention, she said.

Numerous state and national pharmacy associations are helping to communicate the role pharmacists play in promoting health and wellness, and reducing medical costs. One mutual goal is to have pharmacists recognized as providers, Williams said. Hy-Vee is active in state and national pharmacy legislative and regulatory arenas. It has elevated its regulatory and legislative activity since the company’s chairman, CEO and president Randy Edeker joined the NACDS executive committee and was the organization’s past chairman.

Hy-Vee seeks to have its pharmacists practice “at the top of their license,” Williams said. Hy-Vee offers point-of-care testing in select Nebraska locations, where pharmacists are able to diagnose patients presenting with the flu or strep throat and dispense medications on-site. “We have expanded our vaccination portfolios and utilize our mobile health units to expand worksite wellness.”

Williams, who began working at Hy-Vee at age 14, worked her way up as a pharmacist. She held several pharmacy management roles before she moved into her current position about three years ago. Along the way, she oversaw the opening of the company’s central prescription filling center, which reallocates Hy-Vee pharmacists’ time so they can provide enhanced care to patients.
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