Sam’s Club: Sharpening its health focus
With its sprawling, bare-bones warehouse stores and bulk merchandising, Sam’s Club virtually shouts value and low prices. But increasingly, the nation’s second-largest wholesale membership club chain also presents itself as a viable source for both lower-cost prescriptions and other products for chronic and preventive care, and as a community resource for immunizations, health screenings, self-diagnostics and other health-and-wellness services.
With pharmacies in 625 of its 661 membership club outlets, Sam’s Club has made itself a leader in value-added health services, particularly through its sponsorship of in-store health fairs with free screenings for diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, vision and hearing, provided by locally contracted health professionals. The tests are offered “every month from January through October to both members and the public … at every location with a pharmacy,” explained company spokesperson Laura Ladd Poff.
Since launching the free diagnostic events six years ago, Sam’s Club has conducted more than 1 million screenings, according to Jill Turner-Mitchael, SVP consumables and health and wellness. The screenings, she said, are usually accompanied by a counseling and health review session with participants, as part of the company’s mission “to be a total health-and-wellness destination.”
To further that goal, Sam’s recently introduced higi self-testing kiosks across its pharmacy network. “These screening stations are able to assess each user’s blood pressure, pulse, weight and body mass index [BMI],” said Poff. “Users can also track their health information over time and share it with others through higi’s online platform, which can aggregate data from over 80 health devices, activity trackers and apps to provide a holistic view of … their health.”
Turner-Mitchael called the stations “a great tool to complement our monthly health-screening program, as they help make it easier for people to learn more about their health. We also recognize the importance of using the latest technology to motivate people to live healthier lives, so our partnership with higi is a perfect match.”
Sam’s Club also has begun offering “pharmacist-administered rapid diagnostic tests for influenza and streptococcal infection at all clubs with a pharmacy in Michigan and Minnesota,” Poff added. “In the event that a flu or strep test yielded a positive result, Sam’s Club pharmacists are also able to initiate drug therapy based on clinical protocols maintained with licensed providers.”
Sam’s also is refining its health-and-wellness message with a “new approach to categories,” said Poff, by organizing related products into “new buckets … aimed at helping members solve for specific-need states.” Generally, that means grouping items into broad categories like those that address what Poff called “physiological needs — products that help solve for conditions that are happening either in or on the patient’s physical body.” Among those products, she added, are “incontinence solutions, medical solutions, nutritional solutions, personal care, etc.”
Another category addresses what Poff describes as “environmental” health needs, including lift chairs and “products that help address common issues that occur in areas where patients live, in an effort to make a safer environment” in the bedroom, bathroom or kitchen. Sam’s also has created product groupings both for mobility — which Poff described as “on the move” or “biomechanical” devices, including wheelchairs, scooters and dexterity utensils — and for family caregivers. “Family Caregiving is crossing channels with an innovative ‘Endless Aisle’ kiosk that allows members to shop our online assortment in 233 clubs, and have those products shipped directly to their home,” she told DSN.
Sam’s also has launched a website for caregivers, SamsClub.com/caregiving, where members can access “expert advice, buying guides and the best products for home assistance,” according to Poff.