The battle for drugstore and digital healthcare shoppers is underway as the retail pharmacy market consolidates and the big chains race to turn their e-commerce sites and stores into one-stop stores for healthcare services.
CVS Health, with 9,700 drugstores nationwide and its pending acquisition of Aetna Inc., has been the chain making the most moves. In June, CVS Pharmacy, the retail pharmacy division of CVS Health, added additional delivery options for its stores and mobile app. CVS Pharmacy customers nationally can now opt to have their prescriptions delivered to their home, rather than going to the store to pick them up. CVS also rolled out same-day prescription delivery to Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, DC in addition to New York.
But faced with more competition from CVS and Amazon.com Inc. once it completes its much publicized takeover of digital pharmacy PillPack Inc., Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. is now rolling out its latest online initiative: a digital marketplace of healthcare providers. With the newly developed marketplace, consumers can use desktop and mobile versions of Walgreens.com and the Walgreens mobile app to access Find Care Now.
The Find Care Now marketplace is the latest move by Walgreens, which operates 9,800 drugstores, to turn its e-commerce site into a digital healthcare delivery platform. “We are becoming a healthcare hub,” says Walgreens vice president and director of healthcare innovation Giovanni Monti.
Walgreens is already digitally connected to consumers—at least on the front end. Walgreens, for example, has an advanced e-commerce system that’s increasingly focused on mobile devices. More than 50 million customers have downloaded the Walgreens app, which allows shoppers to submit and refill prescriptions, and the drugstore chain offers online prescription orders and refills at about 8,100 locations in the U.S., the retailer says. About 200 million of the 1 billion prescription orders Walgreens processes each month are completed online. Walgreens’ goal is to turn its substantial e-commerce base and digital drugstore business into a diversified digital healthcare services delivery company.
That’s a strategy Walgreens began pursuing in earnest three years ago. Now, the drugstore chain is adding new digital healthcare delivery services. For example, NewYork-Presbyterian, one of the nation’s largest public health systems, and Walgreens are collaborating to deploy a consumer telehealth program. A patient can use a kiosk in a Walgreens store to go online and connect with an emergency room physician who can provide an exam through a high-definition video-conference connection.
With Find Care Now, users can navigate and search for local and digital healthcare services, with offerings in certain markets as varied as neighborhood healthcare clinics, urgent care, telehealth, lab testing, physician second opinions and even physician house calls and optical and hearing services in select markets, Walgreens says. With Find Care Now, consumers can go online, find providers at a participating health system, schedule and pay for a digital doctor visit or schedule an eye exam at a Walgreens store. Fees range from $55 for the eye exam to $59 for a telehealth session for non-emergency (walk-in clinic) conditions and $89 for an online visit with a behavioral therapist. What services are covered by health insurance are determined by each user’s health plan, Walgreens says.
So far, 17 healthcare systems, hospitals, laboratory testing companies and telehealth services providers are participating in Find Care Now. Health systems and hospitals include: Advocate Health Care, Chicago; Baptist Health, Jacksonville, Florida; Community Health Network, Indianapolis; Florida Hospital, Tampa; NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in collaboration with Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York; Piedmont Healthcare, Atlanta; Providence St. Joseph Health, including Providence Express Care in Portland, Oregon; Swedish Express Care in Seattle; SSM Health, St. Louis; and The University of Miami Health System, Miami.
Walgreens built Find Care Now based on consumer research and demand for more one-stop healthcare services, a key reason the drugstore chain’s new provider marketplace lets shoppers view cash pricing information and also have the ability to schedule visits or complete virtual consultations in some markets. “Consumers tell us they want new ways to access care,” Monti says.
Walgreens has plans to add more services and healthcare providers to Find Care Now, although the company did not provide any specifics. “Going forward we will make [Find Care Now] richer and more personal,” Monti says.
The drugstore retailer also is counting on its significant base of mobile users to build volume for Find Care Now—the Walgreens mobile app has more than 5 million active users each month and the app has been downloaded more than 50 million times, Walgreens says. “It’s all about making access to healthcare more convenient,” Monti says.
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