Kroger Pharmacists Join CliniSync Health Information Exchange

Kroger pharmacists join the CliniSync Health Information Exchange

By Dorothea Howe, M.Ed., M.A.

It’s February and you’re a month into your New Year, New Me resolutions. Don’t get discouraged. It’s not too late to watch your waistline and budget by making sure you and your family are eating the healthiest foods at the lowest cost.

And believe it or not, your pharmacist can help.

Kroger pharmacists in 120 stores throughout Central Ohio can now electronically communicate with doctors’ offices to provide better patient care – whether it’s healthy foods for diabetics, immunizations for children, vaccinations for those who travel abroad, or smoking cessation for those who want to quit.

“Our goal is to leverage our convenient locations in a grocery store to be an important resource for Ohio’s health systems to improve the long-term health and wellness of patients in Ohio,” says Steve Burson, Pharmacy Clinical Sales Manager for the Kroger Columbus Division. “Kroger pharmacists are trained experts on proper medication use and immunizations. Plus, we have pharmacists specially trained on other services, such as health coaching and travel health.

Connecting to the medical neighborhood

The Kroger Pharmacy Columbus Division recently joined the CliniSync Health Information Exchange (HIE) as part of a “medical neighborhood” project where physicians and social service entities are connecting electronically with others in the community to provide food, housing, transportation, self-management, education and other services beyond medical needs.

“Everyone knows pharmacists are key to a patient’s medical treatment, and yet they’re often left out of the loop of an individual’s total care,” says Dan Paoletti, CEO of the Ohio Health Information Partnership that manages the CliniSync infrastructure.

“Our goal is to assist clinicians in managing a patient’s care with as much pertinent health information as possible. We see pharmacists as a critical component in that care.”

The medical neighborhood project, managed by the Health Collaborative of Greater Columbus (HCGC), seeks to connect disparate social services with the medical community and uses the CliniSync referral technology to make those connections.

“The Medical Neighborhood Referral Infrastructure Project (MNRI) is a collaborative effort to bring together the medical community with social service organizations and agencies in Central Ohio so we can wrap those services around the patient in a cohesive way,” says John Leite, MNRI coordinator for the HCGC.

Taking a free Kroger grocery tour

At the Avery Square Kroger in Dublin, Ohio, pharmacist Negreen Abu Saleh starts the grocery tour in the produce section with a small group of customers. She explains just how much of each food group people should eat in a day, citing the website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Abu Saleh teaches customers from a curriculum developed by the national organization, Share Our Strength. The educational tour helps those with chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and heart failure to carefully read and interpret labels and to select the healthiest foods possible. But it’s also good, plain advice for even the healthiest folks.

“Half of your daily intake should be fruits and vegetables, with two-thirds of grains and one-third of protein. Then you should have three servings of dairy a day,” Abu Saleh says.

Whether you select fresh, frozen or canned, they’re all healthy for you. But if you want to save money, select fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season and on sale. Buy frozen or canned (without sugar) to save on storage space when out of season.

Here are some other tips a Kroger pharmacist can provide:

  • “I’m local” labels mean the produce comes from nearby farmers.
  • Look for lean meats that have the least “marbling” in them.
  • Ground beef should be 90 % lean, 10 % fat.
  • Eat fish twice a week and red meat less than three times a week.
  • Beans are a healthy source of protein, and nuts are a great snack.
  • Learn how to read labels carefully, especially for sugar and salt (sodium).
  • For grains (pasta, cereal, breads), look for the first ingredient listed on the label to say “whole grain.”
  • There’s not much difference between 2% and 1% milk. Soy and almond are also good for you.
  • Cheese isn’t the healthiest source of dairy; nonfat, plain yogurt without sugar would be better.
  • Look for snacks lower in sodium, trans and saturated fat, and added sugars.
  • Drink low and no calorie beverages. If you drink juice, make sure it’s 100% juice.
For those who want one-on-one counseling with a nutritionist, the Kroger pharmacist can connect them to one of The Little Clinic dietitians in the Columbus area who work within select Kroger locations. A nominal fee may apply.
The Kroger Pharmacy intends to expand its ability to electronically connect with physician offices and clinics in other areas of Ohio. They soon will have all of their clinical services on the CliniSync referral process. “CliniSync is a great platform for other providers to tap into what Kroger pharmacists can do to enhance the clinical care for their patients and improve outcomes. We plan on using the CliniSync platform to partner with providers to provide transition of care and other collaborative services,” added Burson.
So, you still have time to meet your New Year’s resolutions, and the boost you need to get health could be as close as your local Kroger.
 Free Healthy Shopping and Grocery Tours
  • Small group learning on how to shop healthier and smarter
  • Learn how to read nutrition labels
  • Led by local, specially trained pharmacist
  • Select locations
  • Influenza vaccinations for ages 7 and up without a prescription
  • Other vaccines for ages 7-12 with a prescription and for ages 13+ without a prescription
  • Medicaid and Medicare accepted
Travel Health Services
  • Trained pharmacist provides personalized plan to address prevention of infectious diseases, personal safety, environmental and health risks
  • $50 out of pocket consultation fee
  • Select locations
Smoking Cessation Coaching
  • One-on-one coaching from trained pharmacist
  • Convenient appointments and follow-up
*Please see participating Krogers at the end of this article.
* Kroger Pharmacies in the following cities and neighboring counties are participating with CliniSync at this time: Athens, Bellaire, Bellefontaine, Bucyrus, Chillicothe, Circleville, Columbus, Delaware, Dublin, Findlay, Heath, Hebron, Jackson, Kenton, Lancaster, Logan, London, Marysville, Marion, Mansfield, Mt. Gilead, Mt. Vernon, Nelsonville, New Lexington, Newark, Portsmouth, Sandusky, Steubenville, Sunbury, Toledo, Trimble, Urbana, Washington Court House, Waverly, Wheelersburg, Wintersville, and Zanesville. Grocery tour and travel health services are not available at every location. Contact the Kroger Pharmacy or view available referral services in CliniSync.
Dorothea Howe, M.Ed., M.A. is the Communications Director at the Ohio Health Information Partnership.
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