LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- A Hen House Market here opened last month with an innovative pharmacy concept that it hopes will be distinguishable from the half-dozen other supermarket pharmacies, chain drug stores and mass merchandisers in this suburban Kansas City neighborhood.
Among its services, the 400-square-foot pharmacy offers a diabetes-management program to its customers and will be offering similar programs for asthma and hypertension sufferers.
Hen House also distinguishes itself from the other food stores here by positioning its pharmacy, which it calls The Corner Drugstore, in the front of the 60,000-square-foot supermarket.
"Most pharmacies are in the back of supermarkets," pointed out Eric Christensen, pharmacy manager. "We're in a high-profile location. We're the first to greet the customers as they enter the store. If an elderly or disabled person just needs a prescription filled, they can come right up to the counter and avoid lengthy travels to the back of the store. A person can drop off their prescription first, do their shopping and pick it up when they have finished."
Hen House hopes the strategic positioning of its pharmacy will help it compete against the other pharmacies in the area, including Hy-Vee, Price Chopper, Osco Drug, Kmart and Wal-Mart.
Adjacent to the Hen House pharmacy's drop-off prescription window is a stand-up consultation window and a sit-down consultation booth. There is a computer screen embedded in a wall outside The Corner Drugstore, for patients' information. Several CD-ROM software programs demonstrate proper inhaler technique, how to instill eye drops, and other functions.
"The patient can sit down and watch while we are filling their prescription," Christensen said.
Hen House is owned by Ball's Food Stores, Kansas City, Kan., which operates 21 grocery stores in Kansas and Missouri, including 12 Price Choppers, eight Hen House Markets and one Ball's Apple Market. Nine of these supermarkets have pharmacies.
"Ours is a showcase store," Christensen said. "We had the best opening any of our pharmacies have ever had. Hopefully, that's a sign of future success."
"It is pretty much leading-edge right now," said David Gryszowka, executive director of store development for Ball's Food Stores. "We will feel it out for a year and see whether consumers will be interested before we make any changes to existing pharmacies."
So far, the Lee's Summit Hen House is one of several pharmacies in the chain offering a diabetes-care program, which, Christensen said, is still developing. "We've gotten a good response so far. The patients that have been introduced to the program have been excited."
Shoppers at Hen House can make appointments to talk to a pharmacist individually in the consultation booth or have group counseling on subjects like diet and nutrition, needle disposal, the proper way to inject insulin, administer medications and use a blood-glucose monitor.
"Our state-of-the-art computer system will download the data from their glucose monitor and print off a series of reports that help patients and their doctor to track their diabetes progress," Christensen said.
Hen House pharmacy will also have the ability to monitor the health of patients suffering from hypertension and asthma.
Pharmacies still have to overcome the big hurdle of reimbursement for these cognitive services, however. "It's a financial investment," he noted. "The payoff will come. It's only a matter of time when insurance companies will realize that pharmacists have a lot to do with decreasing overall health care costs and keeping the patient out of the hospital."