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Supermarkets Play Important Role in Coordinated Care

Julie Gallagher

Ask anyone who’s been an advocate for a hospitalized relative or other incapacitated person and they’ll tell you that a forceful personality is key.

But that may change under accountable care, since members of a patient’s care team have a financial stake in their ability to stay well and out of the hospital.

Walgreens became the first food retailer to form Accountable Care Organizations earlier this year with physicians groups in Texas, Florida and New Jersey.

The ACOs apply a physician-led, team approach to patient care by featuring pharmacists as an integral part of patients’ care teams. Walgreens’ ACOs are part of the Medicare Shared Savings Program, a pay for performance reimbursement model intended to reward medical providers who deliver elevated care at reduced costs.

Under a traditional payment model, reimbursements are paid for each test conducted or procedure performed, but with accountable care, physicians and other healthcare providers may be paid a flat rate for a patient’s care over a certain period of time, so it’s in their best financial interest to work together as an efficient team to keep patients well.

Though it’s not currently part of an ACO, Kroger’s The Little Clinic has partnered with several health systems to efficiently and effectively care for diabetics and other patients.

The model employs a triage system where diabetics who require routine monitoring are taken care of at The Little Clinic, while endocrinologists and other affiliated physicians make the most efficient use of their time by treating the patients who are most in need of their care.

Read more: Coordinating Care With Supermarket Clinics

Supermarket pharmacists and dietitians are also getting involved.

Over the course of a year, Price Chopper’s pharmacists worked with 60 diabetics and their physicians, by monitoring hemoglobin A1c, blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI, and helping patients better manage their disease through appropriate medication use, exercise, nutrition and other lifestyle changes.


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Participants also met with dietitians, participated in store tours, learned how to read labels and about the NuVal nutrition rating system. They also put to use customized eating plans.

“By the end of the program there were significant improvements in clinical outcomes and pharmacists saw dramatic improvements in the patients’ ability to manage their diabetes,” said pharmacist Alisha Roberts, clinical coordinator for Price Chopper.

Lasting loyalty is forged through relationships like these, as patients count the food retailer, dietitian and pharmacist who helped them regain their health, as forever in their corner.


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