- Hy-Vee has acquired two telepharmacy locations in rural Iowa, and will rebrand them under the Hy-Vee Pharmacy name, according to a company release.
- The storefronts, located in Victor and West Liberty, Iowa, provide digital access to a full-time pharmacist, who can confer with customers via iPad or phone and review prescriptions for an on-site technician to fill. The locations also offer over-the-counter medications and consumables.
- Hy-Vee operates 17 standalone pharmacies in addition to pharmacies located inside its nearly 250 stores, according to Chain Drug Review.
Hy-Vee’s acquisition taps into the growing telehealth trend that’s lowering costs for retailers and healthcare providers, while at the same time expanding coverage.
In rural communities and other locations where low population density makes staffing full-time pharmacists a challenge, companies are digitally linking patients with pharmacists who can fill prescriptions and answer questions. Walgreens offers pharmacy kiosks in select areas, while Publix recently partnered with Florida’s BayCare health to offer telehealth services in some of its Tampa Bay stores.
Telepharmacies are able to fill gaps in the existing pharmacy network, and according to Drug Store News, they have the added benefit of digitally documenting every prescription and patient interaction. Recent studies show they’re effective, too. A study published in the North Carolina Medical Journal earlier this year that followed 365 patients found telepharmacy services helped diabetic individuals better manage their symptoms.
Researchers involved with that study found that around 92% of patients were satisfied with their telepharmacy services, with 83% saying it made getting care easier. When comparing the effectiveness of the services’ diabetic care to one-on-one interactions with pharmacists, the researchers found the two options to be equally effective.
Over the past decade or so, supermarkets have steadily expanded their pharmacy services and established medical clinics inside their stores. The additional revenue retailers gain from patient visits — which offer flu shots, checkups and treatment for minor conditions — is very attractive, and can bolster a company's health image with consumers.
Hy-Vee, in particular, has gained a reputation as a health leader in the grocery industry. With its expansion in telepharmacy services, the company could be tapping into yet another revenue opportunity by providing cost-effective care to individuals outside its store service area.