Hy-Vee finds niche in Rx, healthy eating

The typical first-time customer walking into a Hy-Vee store will probably see it as a supermarket, but what makes Hy-Vee stick out is its strong emphasis on pharmacy programs and health and wellness.

In December 2010, the chain announced it would become one of a number of retailers to participate in Pharmacy Saver, a new program offered in collaboration with UnitedHealthcare, the country’s largest Medicare Part D insurer. The program offers 366 commonly prescribed generic drugs to select Medicare beneficiaries for as little as $2 and is offered on top of Hy-Vee’s generic discount program, which offers generic prescriptions for $4 for 30-day supplies and $10 for 90-day supplies.

Pharmacy Saver adds to Hy-Vee’s growing list of pharmacy offerings, including the chain’s partnership with Omaha, Neb.-based specialty pharmacy provider Amber Pharmacy to provide services that also would take advantage of Hy-Vee’s diet and nutrition programs. The partnership, officially a joint venture with Amber called Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions, also has its headquarters in Omaha and offers phone service, personal care coordinators and the option of having specialty medications made available for pickup at a Hy-Vee pharmacy or delivered to a patient’s home, office or other location.

Healthy eating is another area where Hy-Vee has staked out a niche for itself. It marked February as American Heart Month with a special advertising circular that contained nutrition information, shopping tips and heart-healthy recipes from Hy-Vee chefs, created in coordination with the chain’s 150 retail dietitians. The chain also began experimenting with a healthy checkstand assortment it calls “Blue Zone Lanes” (see page 86).

Hy-Vee’s efforts have won it recognition from the Food Marketing Institute, which awarded the chain one of its 2010 Maximizing People Potential awards at the FMI Human Resources/Training Development Conference in Baltimore in October in recognition for its healthy lifestyle program, which encourages employees to manage their health and rewards them for active participation.