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Midwest Retailer of the Year

Health, Wellness ‘Major Component’ Of Hy-Vee’s Mission

Hy-Vee

West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee’s commitment to healthcare goes beyond the traditional pharmacy shelves. The company believes in a holistic approach for its customers. This approach includes not only the traditional pharmaceutical operation but also promoting and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle. 

Hy-Vee, The Shelby Report of the Midwest’s Retailer of the Year, has been in the pharmacy business for more than 50 years, with 270 retail pharmacies across eight states employing more than 1,100 pharmacists. 

Hy-Vee

In addition to store-front pharmacies that offer services seven days a week, Hy-Vee operates a fleet of 28 mobile health units it deploys to rural communities and businesses to provide on-site COVID-19 vaccination clinics, according to Kristin Williams, EVP, chief health officer and president of Hy-Vee subsidiary Amber Specialty Pharmacy. 

While COVID-19 itself and COVID vaccinations are not as prevalent as two years ago, Hy-Vee prides itself on its accomplishments throughout the pandemic. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has previously named Hy-Vee a National Federal Retail Pharmacy Program partner for Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. 

As of October, the company had administered more than 3.6 million COVID-19 vaccines through a variety of partnerships. It also was responsible for holding and coordinating community vaccination clinics, drive-thru flu shot events and rapid PCR and molecular PCR testing sites. 

Hy-Vee has been working to use this infrastructure to implement it in a post-pandemic world. One aspect of this is Hy-Vee Healthy You Mobiles, which were originally Winnebagos outfitted to help serve customers and patients, Williams said.

Since finding success with the mobile health clinics, the company has increased its fleet by 18. These two- to four-room mobile treatment centers allow for a variety of health-related services. 

“The majority from this past year were giving the COVID vaccines, but we have been using them for flu vaccines and also biometric screenings when we go to employer groups or we can bring them to larger events like the Iowa State Fair,” Williams said. “We also partner with communities that maybe don’t have a pharmacy readily available.”

Hy-Vee

But retail pharmacy is not the only healthcare focus. Hy-Vee’s expansive network includes specialty healthcare options, discounted prescriptions, lifestyle and diet advice and telemedicine.

“We have the most robust portfolio of healthcare subsidiaries that we’ve ever had,” Williams said.

Vivid Clear Rx is Hy-Vee’s pharmacy benefit manager and provides advisor, advocacy and proactive approach to pharmaceutical finances. The goal is to help provide customers with the understanding of how their money flows through the healthcare process. They accomplish this via a customizable dashboard that provides real-time medication application. 

One of the largest benefits to stem from Vivid Clear Rx is its discount card. 

“Think like GoodRx,” said Aaron Wiese, CEO of Hy-Vee health and innovation and president of Hy-Vee Healthcare LLC. “Customers who maybe don’t have insurance or they have limited coverage under their prescription drug benefit, they can go use our Vivid discount card and get incredible savings off their prescription drugs. They can go to any pharmacy in the country.”

Hy-Vee’s subsidiaries also include Amber Specialty Pharmacy, based in Omaha, Nebraska. Their partnership dates to 2010, but Hy-Vee officially purchased Amber Pharmacy in 2014. 

Specialty pharmacy is the fastest growing concern within the pharmacy industry, according to Williams. Specialty pharmacies help patients manage complex, chronic conditions by assigning a health care team – an enrollment specialist, pharmacist, patient care coordinator and billing coordinator. 

The team develops a comprehensive plan for the patient’s clinical care, insurance and financial administration. It’s a service Amber Specialty Pharmacy began nearly 25 years ago. 

Hy-Vee

“Specialty pharmacy is caring for the most vulnerable of patient populations,” Willaims said. “We started in 1998, caring for patients who had just received an organ transplant. 

“In the past three years, we’ve really been focused on partnering with manufacturers to launch their limited distribution medications for a small subset of the population.”

Amber Specialty Pharmacy is not the only subsidiary that offers low-cost personalized healthcare to patients. RedBox Rx is Hy-Vee’s newest addition that provides low-cost telehealth and online pharmacy services that ship prescriptions to patients’ homes. 

The overarching goal is to offer a telehealth appointment with a physician and opportunity to get prescriptions at a reasonable cost. 

“We don’t want to disrupt their sense of self,” Wiese said. “RedBox allows patients to be comfortable and discuss their needs with a physician in a space they are comfortable. These telehealth visits give [patients] an opportunity to speak openly with their doctor. 

“We can coordinate things from there by shipping it directly to their door if they’d like. It’s a frictionless experience that gives that great service that we give our customers every day in our stores.”

The consultations themselves cost a maximum of $39, but also can be free depending on the type of treatment. Consultation fees often are less expensive than typical medical insurance co-pays and RedBox Rx does not accept insurance. 

However, patients can use their HSA or FSA card to pay for the consultation or prescription costs. RedBox is also a complementary or alternative health care option for the coverage conditions that employers can share at no cost. 

Hy-Vee

“At Hy-Vee, health and wellness is a major component of what we strive to assist our customers with every day,” said Randy Edeker, Hy-Vee chairman and executive director. “We know that more people are looking for quick, convenient and personalized health care options shipped directly to their homes and RedBox Rx does exactly that.” 

Hy-Vee also works to promote healthy lifestyles and diets. Hy-Vee’s HealthMarket department is its “store within a store” concept that carries products such as vitamins, fresh meats and seafoods, produce and frozen foods and sports nutrition products. 

Hy-Vee has had the concept for more than 20 years. But it is also conscious to carry products for specialized diets.

The HealthMarket was one of the first in the country to emphasize gluten-free products, Wiese said. It also offers products that cater to paleos, vegans, vegetarians and many others. The markets are conscious of ensuring customers receive the right information about products and diets with help from their in-store dietitians and its WholeLotta Good e-commerce offering.

“One of the things that makes Hy-Vee’s such an innovative approach is we were one of the first retail supermarkets to bring dieticians into the store,” Wiese said. “It makes it so easy for the consumer to find what they’re looking for. 

“If they are hoping to follow a specialized diet or have been recently diagnosed with diabetes and want to know how to eat a sugar-free diet, they have a personalized source right there in the store.”

WholeLotta Good takes that experience and brings it into an online marketplace experience. The online marketplace comprises dietitian-approved foods, vitamins, supplements, bath and body products, fitness equipment and household products that can be categorized to fit the consumer’s desired lifestyle. These categories include organic, gluten-free, keto, vegan and plant-based products. All of which will ship to the customers’ homes. It also offers daily discounts and free shipping on purchases over $49. 

But healthy eating is only part of the equation. Proper health care, treatment and preventative care are also necessary. Hy-Vee strives to be a “one-stop shop” for customers living healthy lifestyles. 

Hy-Vee’s commitment doesn’t stop there. The company has a Disaster Relief Fleet that has helped those impacted by natural disasters. 

Hy-Vee

Following the devastation of Category 4 Hurricane Ian in September, Hy-Vee deployed its fleet to bring fresh water, supplies and more than 1 million meals to southwest Florida.

That fleet included Hy-Vee’s mobile command center, a water tank and pump trailer, two Hy-Vee rapid response pickup trucks and nine Hy-Vee semis filled with water, ice, snacks, cleaning supplies and protein. 

Hy-Vee previously deployed its team to Mayfield, Kentucky, and parts of Tennessee in December 2021 to assist in the cleanup efforts following devastating tornadoes. 

“In times of great need like these, it’s important that we help in the way we know best, by providing essentials like food and water as well as a helping hand,” Edeker said.

The fleet itself was established just two years ago, according to Williams. But they don’t just carry food and supplies, they can also bring Hy-Vee’s mobile healthcare units. 

“Part of that disaster relief team is a mobile pharmacy,” she said. “We recognized that we needed to have that as a play for all modern disaster relief. We are sometimes the only pharmacy in the towns that we serve and we see the need for these mobile units as a crucial part of our infrastructure and we decided to invest in that.”

To read more stories of The Shelby Report of the Midwest’s Retailer of the Year, click here.

About the author

Jack R. Jordan

Content Creator

Jordan joined The Shelby Report in May 2022 after over a year in the newspaper industry. A native of Marietta, Georgia, he studied writing and communications at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. He spends too much time in the grocery store trying to find recipe ingredients, so he looks forward to covering the industry.

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