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Patients benefit from Kroger's holistic view.

CINCINNATI -- Kroger Co. won an American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Pinnacle Award last year in recognition of its pharmacies' significant contributions to patient care and outcomes.

"We are honored to receive this recognition," said Philecia Avery, Kroger's vice president of pharmacy. "The Pinnacle Award is a testament to our pharmacy teams' amazing work and dedication to patient care."

Kroger, which was named the 2014 Group Practice--Health System--Corporation Award winner, operates more than 2,100 pharmacies in 34 states and Washington, D.C.

Kroger strives to provide a holistic, personalized, quality health experience in addition to filling prescriptions. Everyday pharmacy services include vaccinations, medication therapy management and a variety of health screenings. Many locations offer more intensive education and management programs such as diabetes and heart healthy coaching, diabetes self-management education, fitness, nutrition and weight management, and smoking cessation. Kroger is also utilizing innovative methods to improve medication adherence, reduce hospital readmissions and lower total health care costs.

"Collaboration has been a key to our success," said Jim Kirby, Kroger's manager of clinical strategy and programs. "Partnering with organizations like the APhA Foundation, health systems and universities has enabled us to develop and test unique interventions. These programs are using a team-based approach to provide patient-centered care and improve health outcomes."

The Pinnacle Awards were established in 1988 by the APhA Foundation to celebrate significant contributions made to the medication use process by increasing patient adherence, reducing drug misadventures, promoting the use of national treatment guidelines, improving patient outcomes or enhancing communication among members of the health care team.

The honor was presented during a ceremony at APhA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Later last year, Kroger group vice president for corporate affairs Lynn Marmer discussed the company's efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle and fight obesity. Marmer spoke at the Sixth Annual International Forum on Food and Nutrition, held at Bocconi University in Milan. The forum was sponsored by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation, a think tank focused on the links between food and nutrition and other social, environmental and economic issues.

Marmer outlined the obesity challenge in the United States--where one-third of children eat fast food every day and 34% of all citizens are obese--and Kroger's efforts to promote healthy living for associates, customers and communities.

Kroger, the sixth-largest employer in the U.S., gives associates a variety of tools to improve their health, including an incentive program with measurable outcomes to improve workplace wellness.

Since 2010, employees have participated in annual health screenings that measure blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, body mass index and blood glucose levels. The percentage of associates meeting targets in each of the four areas has increased from 2010 to 2013, demonstrating improvement in the health of Kroger's workforce.

"We want our workforce to be the healthiest in America," said Marmer. "More of our associates meeting health targets each year shows real progress toward that goal. We know that becoming healthier, both individually and collectively, improves our personal and work lives--and that benefits our customers, too."

Kroger's workplace well-being program last year received a "Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles" award from the National Business Group on Health, and the company's commitment to employee health and wellness was recognized by the American Heart Association.

For the public at large, Kroger uses its economies of scale to increase access to healthy food through both merchandising and food rescue efforts. "For nine consecutive years, we have lowered our costs of doing business and reinvested those savings in lower food prices that save our customers more than $3 billion every year," said Marmer. "More recently, we have invested considerably in lower retail prices on fresh fruits and vegetables in our produce department especially, which is expanding access to healthy foods for our customers.

"We are equally committed to caring for our neighbors in need. Our Perishable Donations Partnership contributes millions of pounds of fresh, nutritious items annually to food banks across the country."

Kroger's fresh food rescue program was responsible for 25,000 tons of fresh meat, produce, dairy and bakery items donated to food banks in 2013, which equates to more than 35 million meals of healthy, perishable food to help feed hungry families.

To meet rising demand for convenience and healthy living, Kroger and its King Soopers division late this spring launched the natural and organic e-commerce website KingSoopers. com/LiveNaturally.

Open to King Soopers customers who live in the Denver metro area, and offering more than 36,000 natural and organic products, LiveNaturally provides the convenience of online shopping for a variety of healthy living products--while virtually extending the product selection. Every product is free from more than 101 artificial ingredients and preservatives that many customers prefer be left out of products.

"Increasingly, our customers are looking for more simple, convenient and relevant ways to shop, whether it's in-store, on our website or on their mobile devices," said King Soopers president Russ Dispense. "It has never been easier for King Soopers customers to shop online for thousands of natural and organic products."

Kroger called the e-commerce website the next step in its effort to make seamless, omnichannel shopping a reality for its customers.

"We are excited to launch our pilot in Denver," said Kevin Dougherty, Kroger's group vice president of digital and Vitacost. " LiveNaturally extends the in-store shopping experience to create a true 'endless aisle' experience with ship-to-home service for thousands more healthy foods, vitamins, minerals and supplements than are available in our stores today."
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Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Aug 10, 2015
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