Kroger Expands New Health Care Initiative

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(Cincinnati – November 21, 2019) - Kroger Co. has quietly launched a new health care initiative aimed at providing customers with a broader array of services than it previously offered.

Kroger 360care is an initiative that enables “hospitals and health care networks to leverage Kroger resources to provide broader access and value-based health care for their patients,” Kroger said in a news release. It greatly expands Kroger’s health care services.

Downtown Cincinnati-based Kroger (NYSE: KR), the nation’s largest operator of traditional supermarkets, recently partnered with a Tennessee hospital and health care network to expand services to its patients and Kroger customers. Ascension Saint Thomas Health operates 97 practice sites with more than 500 physicians and advanced practitioners. Kroger has 116 pharmacies and 40 clinics in Tennessee.

The goal is to provide high-quality care at lower cost, Kroger said. The partnership greatly expands the scope of services available because Kroger customers can tap into Ascension St. Thomas’ medical professionals offering 32 specialties.

Kroger said the Tennessee partnership is an extension of its 360care initiative.

Look for more similar partnerships between Kroger and other health care networks.

“Collaborations and partnerships are key to transforming the way health care is delivered in America,” Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, said in a news release. “Our vision at Kroger Health is to help people live healthier lives. This partnership is a great example of our vision in action.”

You might not think of Kroger as a health care provider, but it is. Kroger already operates 215 Little Clinic locations in stores in nine states, including Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Kroger has 2,759 stores in 35 states.

Those clinics offer licensed medical care involving a variety of services, including cold and flu treatments, vaccinations, screenings, sports physicals and ongoing health management. Those locations are open seven days a week. They also offer services from registered dietitians and nutrition techs to promote proper nutrition.

Kroger also has more than 2,000 pharmacies.

Kroger has a more limited partnership with UC Health in Cincinnati that enables doctors at UC Health to provide advice to the nurse practitioners and physician assistants who diagnose and treat patients at the Little Clinic. That partnership also allows the Little Clinic and UC Health to exchange medical records if the patient signs a waiver.

The 360care partnership expands a key growth strategy for Kroger. It sees plenty of opportunity to expand its retail pharmacy offerings, Jim Kirby, Kroger’s senior director of pharmacy services, said in late August at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores expo in Boston.

“If we in grocery are truly going to improve health outcomes beyond screenings, we're going to have to get in deep with how patients are living their life,” he said at the event. “This is something that we really harp on at Kroger. We have to engage every patient, every time."