Monday, December 15, 2014

Mobile Health, Telemedicine and Walgreens

Walgreens app makes virtual doctor visits a reality


The service is immediately available to residents of California and Michigan and will be rolled out in other states in the next few years. Illinois residents should be able to use the app by the end of 2015.  Appointments cost $49, most of which goes to physicians. That fee is also not much more than a copay for an in-person doctor's visit through some insurance plans. “Some insurance companies cover telemedicine”, Leider said.

Walgreens is launching a virtual doctor visit feature on its mobile app, the company announced Monday. The nation's largest drugstore chain is teaming up with MDLive, a provider of virtual health services, to connect Walgreens customers with certified doctors via video chat on a smartphone, tablet or computer. 

"Consumers are demanding to do everything through mobile," Parker said. "Everything else they can do through mobile, and now they can do this too."

MDLive stands to gain 2 million people a day through Walgreens' mobile app and website. CEO Randy Parker said the company has 2,000 doctors available.
Last year Walgreens launched a Pharmacy Chat feature on its app to allow users to instant message with pharmacy staff. The company said it averages 9,000 chats a week.
"I think this will become a normal part of health care in three to five years," Leider said. "We have got some real forces that are going to make this very compelling."
He said a shortage of primary care physicians coupled with more people becoming insured through the Affordable Care Act means the market is growing for people who might find telemedicine useful.
Dr. Leider made the bold statement, “"I think this will become a normal part of health care in three to five years," Leider said. "We have got some real forces that are going to make this very compelling."
In October, Deerfield-based Walgreen announced a similar telehealth initiative partnership with health information website WebMD to encourage customers to increase exercise to earn discounts at Walgreens stores. The company said it now awards points on its Balance Rewards loyalty card for logging activities on the WebMD Healthy Target app.

The service is immediately available to residents of California and Michigan and will be rolled out in other states in the next few years. Illinois residents should be able to use the app by the end of 2015, said Dr. Harry Leider, chief medical officer  for Walgreens.  Appointments cost $49, most of which goes to physicians. That fee is also not much more than a copay for an in-person doctor's visit through some insurance plans. “Some insurance companies cover telemedicine”, Leider said.

"Consumers are demanding to do everything through mobile," Parker said. "Everything else they can do through mobile, and now they can do this too."

Chicago Tribune


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