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Kroger adds senior care in Atlanta-area clinics

Retailer partners with Better Health Group to add services at eight The Little Clinic locations

Kroger said on Tuesday that it was partnering with Better Health Group to launch primary medical care services for senior patients in eight locations of the retailer’s The Little Clinic locations in the Atlanta area.

The two companies had announced last year that they planned to work together to offer services for seniors through The Little Clinic, but they did not disclose further details at the time.

Better Health Group, founded in 2006 and based in Tampa, Fla., describes itself as a primary care physician group focused on value-based care and managed services organization. It currently has a roster of 1,200 medical care providers and manages care for 285,000 patients enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Accountable Care Organizations, Managed Medicaid, and commercial insurance plans. It operates in eight states and Puerto Rico. It also operates 160 primary care medical centers, according to its website.

The move comes as CVS is expanding its Oak Street Health primary care clinics for seniors, with plans for 50-60 such locations this year.

Kroger’s expansion of its clinic services also comes as several retailers are scaling back their clinics, including CVS, which earlier this year said it would shutter 25 MinuteClinics in Southern California. Other retailers that are shuttering clinics include Walmart, which recently said it planned to close all 51 of its Walmart Health clinics — most of which operated in Georgia and Florida — and Walgreens, which has been closing dozens of locations of its VillageMD clinics.

Kroger said its partnership with Better Health Group would increase access to value-based care for seniors, especially in underserved areas around Atlanta. The retailer said it was focusing first on Medicare Advantage members and traditional Medicare beneficiaries.

“Offering seniors a place to receive care that's expertly provided and convenient is paramount,” said James Kirby, chief commercial officer at Kroger Health. “Kroger Health is committed to providing the personalized care our senior citizens deserve, and we make addressing their specific and unique needs a top priority.”

According to its website, Kroger currently has more than 225 The Little Clinic locations inside grocery stores in Ohio, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Virginia, and Colorado. The clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants, who can diagnose and treat common illnesses and minor injuries, prescribe medications, conduct tests and interpret laboratory results, provide wellness and preventive care, perform physical examinations and health screenings, and administer vaccinations and injections.

At the first eight locations where Kroger is partnering with Better Health Group, patients will have access to extended in-person visits with a primary care provider to address their healthcare needs, the company said. Services offered will include annual wellness visits, preventive care, disease management, customized care plans, and the option to access Kroger Health services such as nutrition counseling and comprehensive medication reviews.

“We are pleased to enhance the care already provided by Kroger Health,” said Mike Polen, CEO of Better Health Group. “This collaboration will create an avenue for seniors to receive the individualized, quality care they need and deserve. It will also allow Better Health Group to continue increasing our reach and spreading our mission to transform sick care into better health care across the nation.”

According to its website, Better Health Group has operations in several states where Kroger has a significant presence, including Georgia, Texas, and Michigan. The company expanded to Alabama and Oklahoma earlier this year.

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