Business Insider reports on Kroger is “building a system that combines information about what food a customer buys with information about their prescriptions so that pharmacists can better counsel patients on healthier habits and ‘food as medicine’.”

The goal, the company says, “is to help keep its customers healthy. In that way, it's acting more like a doctor or nurse than ever before.”

The result, if it works, could be that Kroger will end up filling “fewer prescriptions, according to Kroger Health President Colleen Lindholz, who oversees the company's pharmacies and health clinics. It's a counterintuitive idea, given that retail pharmacies typically make money from selling prescriptions … Healthier eating habits could reduce the need for some medications to treat chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease, or prevent them from progressing to the point where a person needs additional medications or care.”

Lindholz puts it bluntly: "We want to decrease the need for healthcare.”

KC's View: It is an interesting and, I suppose, somewhat counterintuitive approach, considering the degree to which Amazon is investing in the healthcare business, Walmart is putting more of a focus on healthcare, and how CVS is expanding its portfolio so that it has a much broader healthcare footprint.

Now, the argument for why it makes sense to put more of an emphasis on this sector can be found in one number - 18 percent, which is the percentage of the US economy that is healthcare related. And it is growing.

But I think Kroger is onto something here … not that it should get out of the healthcare business, but that it should try to define it differently, in a way that should play to its strengths. It’s been my experience that doctors would rather people address health issues through diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes, when possible, and only move on to medication when those things can’t or don’t work. If Kroger can effectively tap into that, that’s a strategy that could have legs.