- H-E-B has launched a health and wellness platform that incorporates medical and pharmacy services, nutrition counseling and product merchandising, according to an announcement on Thursday.
- H-E-B Wellness centers on company-run clinics that offer medical and dietitian services and will expand their offerings over time. The grocer currently operates seven locations, including one in Austin, Texas, that opened this week, and plans to expand its primary care and nutrition services across the state over the next few years.
- H-E-B’s new health platform comes as grocers across the country expand their health services and tie the food they sell more closely to preventive health.
With the launch of H-E-B Wellness, the Texas grocer is drawing numerous medical and nutrition counseling services together under one platform. This includes wellness visits and dietitian counseling, which its clinics currently offer, and will expand to include physical therapy, pharmacy services, meal planning and more, according to Thursday’s announcement.
H-E-B didn’t offer specifics on how the program will integrate with its stores. It made clear, however, that H-E-B Wellness will incorporate meal planning services, better-for-you foods and private label products like its H-E-B Organics and H-E-B Naturals lines.
The grocer said it has offered these services to its employees and is now extending them to its shoppers. It positioned H-E-B Wellness as a “one-stop” destination for all of their healthcare needs: “Despite the growing focus on health today, consumers struggle to navigate their health journeys on their own. It can feel like a huge burden financially and emotionally. Everyone is seeking unbiased, reliable information and simple solutions to meet their unique health and wellness needs.”
For years, grocers have offered clinics inside their stores, often in partnership with third-party health providers, that offer checkups, flu shots and other basic medical services. Many retailers also offer dietitian counseling along with in-store pharmacies.
With consumers increasingly focused on preventive health more than two years into the pandemic, and with physicians, insurers and other members of the medical community incorporating food into preventive health measures, retailers are seeing an opportunity to more closely tie health services with the groceries they sell. Schnuck Markets, Niemann Foods and Heinen’s are among the grocers that have recently launched personalized health services, while Kroger has increasingly talked up food’s role in consumer health.
Walmart, meanwhile, has been opening health "superstores" across the country as it looks to provide an affordable healthcare option for consumers.
“Where I see this going is an even tighter convergence between food and healthcare, and I think we are absolutely going to see incentives coming into play by healthcare providers, by managed care, encouraging people to eat better,” Gary Hawkins, founder and CEO of the Center for Advancing Retail & Technology, said in a recent interview.
H-E-B currently operates several primary care clinics in Texas, including four locations in San Antonio and one each in Houston, Leander and Austin. The Austin clinic opened Thursday at 8601 S. Congress Ave. #110 and is headed by Dr. Holly Easton, an osteopathic family medicine physician who has practiced for over 20 years.
H-E-B’s clinics offer virtual “sick visits” for $60 and “wellness visits” for $80. H-E-B workers can receive care at reduced rates. The clinics, which don’t accept insurance, take cash, credit and debit, and flexible spending account payments.