WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Hy-Vee Inc. has partnered with Amber Pharmacy to form Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions, a joint venture aimed at providing specialty pharmacy services through the food and drug retailer’s stores.
The venture, announced late Wednesday, is intended to provide more accessible services for patients dealing with complex and chronic health conditions. Executives at Hy-Vee and Omaha, Neb.-based Amber, one of the nation’s largest privately-owned specialty pharmacies, called the collaboration a first for the industry.
"Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions builds a bridge between two different segments of the pharmacy business," stated Bob Egeland, vice president of pharmacy operations for Hy-Vee, which operates 226 pharmacies in its 228 stores. "We’re bringing together experts from retail pharmacy and specialty pharmacy to offer more convenient, more personalized service for patients with complex health care needs."
The companies said Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions will support an array of complex and chronic conditions, such as oncology, blood disorders, Crohn’s disease, growth hormone, hemophilia, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.
They note that because medications for such conditions are injected, infused, expensive or otherwise difficult to manage, most retail pharmacies refer patients to one of a few specialty pharmacy providers with expertise in that area. That’s where Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions will step in, helping patients manage these conditions by assigning a health care team — including an enrollment specialist, a pharmacist, a patient care coordinator and a billing coordinator — to develop an personal plan for the patient’s clinical care, insurance and financial administrative assistance, educational materials and resources, and follow-up care.
According to Hy-Vee and Amber, this end-to-end approach will enable patients to get all of their medications and services from one source and, in turn, improve their adherence to the prescribed therapy and their health outcomes.
In addition, Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions will offer such services as one-stop shopping for all prescriptions and over-the-counter medications; pickup of specialty medications at Hy-Vee Pharmacies or delivery to a patient’s home, workplace or other location; a personal care coordinator — not an automated system — to field patient calls; and 24×7 availability of a pharmacist to answer patients’ questions.
"Because Hy-Vee and Amber operate on a common platform, Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions will be able to handle all of a patient’s pharmacy needs through one point of contact: the Hy-Vee pharmacist," Amber Pharmacy chief operating officer Bill Kaplan said in a statement. "Medication therapy management services can take place in a face-to-face setting, rather than on the phone or through the mail, and patients will have access to diet and nutrition services offered in Hy-Vee stores. It’s a personalized, whole-health approach to specialty pharmacy that represents a major departure from the traditional care model."
Plans call for Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions to be based in Omaha and, eventually, to provide services in the eight states where Hy-Vee operates: Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota. Hy-Vee and Amber said they have assembled a marketing team to introduce the venture to health care providers, employers and managed care plans in key markets.
"This partnership is an outstanding match because of the synergies between Amber and Hy-Vee in terms of our corporate vision, core values, focus on service and commitment to high quality clinical care," Kaplan commented. "We’re looking forward to a long and productive working relationship."
Pharmacy has been a key vehicle in West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee’s strategy to position its stores as health and wellness destinations. For example, the chain’s pharmacies offer such services as health screenings, and the retailer employs dieticians in stores to help customers make more healthful food choices.
And Hy-Vee’s customers have shown a high degree of satisfaction with its pharmacy. In J.D. Power and Associates’ 2009 Pharmacy Study, Hy-Vee ranked No. 4 among supermarkets in pharmacy customer satisfaction, and the retailer’s score bested those of the nation’s biggest drug chains.