Rite Aid Corp. continues to add more digital healthcare and ecommerce options to its base of 2,466 stores and online.
But it remains to seen if a late spurt of new digital healthcare services can help the drugstore chain keep pace in the race against bigger and more technologically advanced rivals such as CVS Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance.
Last week Rite Aid Corp. subsidiary RediClinic, an operator of walk-in clinics in select Rite Aid drugstores and H-E-B grocery stores, rolled out RediClinic Express, a telehealth kiosk that will let customers see a doctor online.
Rite Aid currently operates 26 clinics in Rite Aid stores in Philadelphia and New Jersey and 36 clinics in H-E-B grocery stores in Texas, in Austin, Houston and San Antonio. H-E-B is privately owned and operates more than 350 stores in Texas and in northeast Mexico.
Initially, Rite Aid has deployed telehealth kiosks in RediClinic walk-in centers in Drexel Hill and West Chester in Pennsylvania, with other Pennsylvania locations in Langhorne, Huntingdon Valley and Narberth to follow.
Rite Aid has yet to say what its timetable for telehealth deployment is, how much it’s investing in telehealth and how many of the chain’s nearly 2,500 stores will receive a kiosk. To deploy telehealth, Rite Aid is working with InTouch Health, a telehealth services provider based in Santa Barbara, California.
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 includes Kaiser Permanente, The Mayo Clinic, Rush University Health System, and others.
With its RediClinic Express kiosks, Rite Aid customers can schedule an appointment online, utilize a self-service touchscreen for check-in, or speak with the kiosk’s clinical assistant to help with check-in.
Once checked in, patients are escorted to a private kiosk where their vital signs are taken by the clinical assistant and they are asked to fill out a medical questionnaire. Once those steps are completed, the patient is matched with a clinician who will review their intake form and medical history, and then initiate the virtual care visit, Rite Aid says.
During the virtual visit, a doctor may diagnose the patient and determine a course of treatment, write up a prescription to the patient’s pharmacy of choice or make a referral to another healthcare provider. “Virtual care is another opportunity for Rite Aid to offer patients the convenience of faster service and value-based healthcare,” says Rite Aid executive vice president pharmacy and retail operations Jocelyn Konrad.
Rite Aid hasn’t said what it will charge for a telehealth visit, but the chain is making an effort to rapidly deploy more digital healthcare and ecommerce services. In June, Rite Aid deployed new ecommerce and digital marketing technology from Adobe Inc.
On June 19, Rite Aid, based in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, also announced a new multiyear relationship with Adobe that centers on Rite Aid deploying Adobe Experience Cloud, an integrated suite of ecommerce, online marketing and web analytics products.
Rite Aid has yet to release details on deploying the new Adobe technology, including the cost of installing and running Adobe Experience and a technology deployment timeline. By deploying new and better ecommerce technology and working more closely with Adobe, Rite Aid plans on gathering and synthesizing more customer data to build more personalized shopper and patient profiles.
“Developing deeper relationships with our customers is a key focus for Rite Aid,” says CEO Joseph Standley.
The retail chain that most effectively uses artificial intelligence and data analytics to understand segmented customer behavior—and to deliver a personalized offline and online healthcare services experience—stands to gain the most business, says Ashraf Shehata, a partner in the Global Healthcare Center of Excellence at management consulting firm KPMG US. “Each of the retail chains will do that differently based on the healthcare segments they know and serve,” he says.