Hy-Vee dietitians will use a new enterprise-level electronic health record system called Connect and Coach to track one-on-one nutrition counseling sessions with customers.


West Des Moines-based Hy-Vee Inc. announced it has entered into a three-year contract with a Pittsburgh-based software development firm, PHRQL (pronounced freckle), which is providing its cloud-based program at more than 200 Hy-Vee stores in eight states, including Iowa. PHRQL stands for Personal Health Recording for Quality of Life.  


"It's sort of a TurboTax for dietitians," said Paul Sandberg, PHRQL's president. "It makes it easy for dietitians to provide a full counseling session. But it also protects that customer's data and keeps it secure - which is an important thing if you're dealing with private data."  The software also allows dietitians to securely communicate and exchange health data with a customer's physician, he said.


The system, which Sandberg said became operational in April, enables registered dietitians in supermarkets to help customers develop healthful eating practices for general health and wellness, and to manage diabetes, heart disease or other chronic conditions. The system also has the capability to generate invoices for services rendered that can be configured for electronic billing to insurance companies.


"We are pleased to add Connect and Coach to our customer wellness offerings," said Julie McMillin, Hy-Vee's director of health and wellness, in a release. "For almost 10 years, Hy-Vee has been a national leader in providing in-store nutrition services. Our dietitians will use this valuable tool to document and track one-on-one nutrition counseling sessions, group classes, and guide participants in achieving their overall health goals."


Hy-Vee will also partner with PHRQL to offer other electronic health record-related services, including biometric screenings, employee wellness and electronic communications between various community partners, McMillin said.


Supermarkets are increasingly adding in-house dietitians to aid customers in making healthier food choices. The percentage of supermarket chains hiring or intending to hire in-store dietitians increased from 20 percent to 30 percent between 2011 and 2012, and now stands at more than 47 percent, according to data from Progressive Grocer.