It’s been a busy week for healthcare systems and others looking to deploy telemedicine kiosks in high-traffic areas with lots of potential patients.
The latest is drug store chain Rite Aid Corp. Rite Aid, which in May signed a tentative $24 billion merger deal with grocery store chain retailer Albertson’s Cos., has inked a deal with telehealth services provider InTouch Health, to deploy a number of telehealth kiosks in Rite Aid pharmacies.
The deal with InTouch, a telehealth services provider based in Santa Barbara, California, is being called a “collaboration” by both companies. Details such as how many kiosks will be deployed in Rite Aid pharmacies and when is unknown, as is where the terminals will be located. But Rite Aid will deploy the kisoks and InTouch will provide telehealth services. “We see an opportunity to bring virtual care to patients in a whole new way that intersects with patients in convenient locations like Rite Aid pharmacies,” says InTouch Health CEO Joseph M. DeVivo.
Rite Aid operates about 2,250 pharmacies, down from a total of more than 4,000 pharmacies after Rite Aid sold 2,186 stores to Walgreens Co. for $5.2 billion in 2017. If the deal with Albertson’s closes sometime before the end of December as anticipated by Albertson’s, the combined organization would operate 4,327 pharmacies, including 1,780 pharmacies inside Albertson’s grocery stores.
Rite Aid would join other big grocery and drug store chains in giving telehealth via kiosks a try. For example, in March 2017, BayCare Health System, which operates 15 hospitals in and around Tampa Bay, Florida. began rolling out its branded telehealth sites to a series of Publix Supermarket Inc. stores in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk counties in Florida. BayCare plans to operate health screening stations at all 115 Publix pharmacies in the four-county area while concurrently Publix will operate retail pharmacies at five BayCare hospitals.
Also NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center is currently deploying one telehealth kiosk at Duane Reade drugstore in Manhattan. Duane Reade is owned and operated by Walgreens. “Rite Aid has long believed in telehealth as an opportunity to improve the level of care we can offer our patients,” says Rite Aid executive vice president of pharmacy Jocelyn Konrad. “We are working with a well-established telehealth company, to create a solution that will potentially help us provide our patients and communities with access to quality, convenient healthcare.”
InTouch Health says it has invested more than $50 million building a telemedicine network the company claims has generated more than 700,000 physician-to-patient telehealth consultations with 14,000 providers in more than 130 health systems worldwide. InTouch Health’s list of clients include Kaiser Permanente, The Mayo Clinic, Rush University Health System and others.
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