How Health Mart serves local need for access to COVID-19 testing


In partnership with an approved HHS testing contractor, eTrueNorth, select Health Mart pharmacies offer free COVID-19 testing to patients.

In brief:

  • Federal and state action has cleared the way for pharmacies to offer COVID-19 testing
  • Most consumers are comfortable with COVID-19 testing and treatment at pharmacies
  • In May, select Health Mart® pharmacies started offering free COVID-19 test collection across the U.S.

Health Mart and COVID-19 testing: How it works

Since May 2020, select Health Mart pharmacies across the U.S. have been offering free COVID-19 test collection. In under 48 hours, 100 Health Marts had begun test collection and, to date, over 170 stores in 41 states are collecting specimens for testing. With communities moving into the next phase of their reopening plan, the need for COVID-19 testing is being answered by frontline healthcare workers like pharmacists.

Sixty percent of Health Mart pharmacies serve low-income neighborhoods, a key reason for their participation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s free patient testing program.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Pharmacy participation: Through a partnership with eTrueNorth, HHS identified and invited select Health Mart pharmacies located in rural and underserved areas to participate. Health Mart provides participating pharmacies with the necessary training, PPE, test kits and signage at no cost.
  2. Requesting a test: If a patient needs a COVID-19 test, they can visit eTrueNorth’s website to complete an assessment, and select a nearby drive-through test collection location. eTrueNorth contracts with certified laboratories for testing and communicates results back to the individual and state health departments.
  3. Scheduling an appointment: If the patient meets the current CDC guidelines, they receive a voucher and schedule a date and time to arrive for testing. The tests are at no cost for eligible patients.
  4. Getting tested: While patients remain in their vehicles, pharmacy staff monitor and guide patients to self-administer a nasal swab. At sites with no parking lot, walk-up testing is provided.
  5. Reporting results: The pharmacy collects the specimen from the patient and sends it to a lab for processing. The lab processes the result within 3 to 5 business days and reports to Public Health department and the patient through the portal.

Patients trust pharmacies in this role

Pharmacies are a convenient place for COVID-19 testing, as 90% of Americans are within 5 miles of a pharmacy. In urban areas, most individuals are within 2 miles. Importantly, most patients are comfortable with being tested for COVID-19 or receiving treatment at a pharmacy, particularly one with drive-through service.i

Comfort with COVID-19 test and treatment

**P<0.05 based on McNemar’s test of association between comfort with testing vs. treatment at each site type within respondents

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i2020 Trend Report in Pharmacy Quality Preview — COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Insights,” Pharmacy Quality Solutions, May 14, 2020.
ii2020 Trend Report in Pharmacy Quality Preview — COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Insights,” Pharmacy Quality Solutions, May 14, 2020.