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Publix Pharmacy branches out in delivery of care

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Partnership includes telehealth, kiosks, hospital pharmacies

LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix Pharmacy is working with BayCare Health System to provide a range of pharmacy and health care destinations in the Tampa Bay and central Florida region.

Publix Super Markets Inc. said Friday that the partnership will initially include BayCare-bannered telehealth centers in various Publix stores, BayCare screening kiosks in all Publix locations and Publix Pharmacy departments on-site at five BayCare hospitals. The sites will serve residents of Florida’s Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk counties.

Publix Pharmacy department

Under the agreement, Publix plans to buy, renovate and operate four BayCare retail pharmacies at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor, Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater and St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. A fifth Publix Pharmacy is slated to be built at Winter Haven Hospital.

Publix also will provide free, bedside prescription delivery services to patients at all BayCare hospital locations.

“This is a very exciting collaboration for both Publix and BayCare,” Fred Ottolino, vice president of pharmacy operations at Publix, said in a statement. “Through this agreement, we will not only be able to provide BayCare medical expertise to Publix customers seeking non-urgent medical care, but we will also be able to bring Publix’s premier service to BayCare’s patients.”

Publix noted that the pact makes BayCare its exclusive health care and telehealth partner in the four-county region. The telehealth centers will have a private room with teleconferencing and medical diagnostic equipment, including stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, high-definition cameras and other tools for common diagnoses. Through the video conferencing technology, patients will be able to talk directly with a board-certified physician through BayCare’s provider network. The doctor can direct patients to use the on-site tools to make a diagnosis and write prescriptions. Publix Pharmacy support staff will be available to assist patients, if needed.

Fees to use the telehealth sites are expected to be competitive with a typical doctor’s office visit co-payment, Publix said, adding that the service will be available on a walk-in basis. The locations and opening dates of the telehealth centers are still being determined, according to the company.

For the kiosk rollout, higi health stations will be deployed at all Publix stores and enable BayCare patients to test blood pressure and perform other health and wellness screening. Users will be able to send their screening results directly to a BayCare physician at no extra fee.

Publix and BayCare expect to finalize the details of the partnership by the end of the year but added that all of the components could be completed within the next four months.

“BayCare is extremely pleased to enter into this agreement with Publix because we share the core value of excellence,” stated Glenn Waters, executive vice president and chief operating officer BayCare Health System. “This collaboration between medical care and pharmacy also furthers the long-time BayCare commitment to connect the many different aspects of health care in an efficient manner that improves both patient health and the care experience. We are very focused on helping individuals access the right level of care in the right place and this collaboration does just that.”

The nonprofit BayCare health system encompasses 14 hospitals and hundreds of other health care facilities in central Florida, providing such inpatient and outpatient services as acute care, primary care, imaging, laboratory, behavioral health, home care and wellness.

Overall, Publix operates 1,144 supermarkets, including about 1,000 in-store pharmacies, in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Publix already operates a number of pharmacies in Florida hospitals, including at the Nemours Children’s Hospital in Lake Nona Medical City in Orlando; Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Moffitt McKinley Campus in Tampa and Lakeland Regional Medical Center in Lakeland.

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