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Walgreens Goes Big on Telemedicine Including New Behavioral Health Service

Posted on May 12, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This was extremely big news for Telehealth in general, but even more so from a mental and behavioral health perspective. In case you missed the news, Walgreens and MDLIVE are partnering to offer telehealth and behavioral telehealth services (technically MDLIVE is partnering with Breakthrough for the behavioral health piece).

Walgreens involvement in telemedicine is such a big deal and is going to really push telemedicine much faster than it’s already going. Currently they can offer their telehealth medical services in 37 states (this announcement added 13 states). Here’s the type of services you can receive through these services:

  • Acne
  • Allergies
  • Cold / Flu
  • Constipation
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Ear problems
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Insect bites
  • Nausea / Vomiting
  • Pink eye
  • Rash
  • Respiratory problems
  • Sore throats
  • Urinary problems / UTI
  • Vaginitis
  • And more

On the behavioral telehealth front, you can get non prescription services in all 50 states and behavioral health prescribing services will be available in 20 states. Here’s a look at the list of services they can offer in behavioral health:

  • Addictions
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Child and adolescent issues
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender issues
  • Grief and loss
  • Life changes
  • Men’s issues
  • Panic disorders
  • Parenting issues
  • Postpartum depression
  • Relationship and marriage issues
  • Stress
  • Trauma and PTSD
  • Women’s issues
  • And more

This announcement has been met by much rejoicing in the mental health community. I think that many of them see these telehealth services as a great way to get more mental health services out to patients who wouldn’t otherwise get treatment. It sure feels like telehealth has finally arrived.

Working with United Healthcare, Aetna, Humana and Walgreens

Posted on May 31, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Today I had a unique experience attending the Life At 50+ event that AARP puts on. It turns out that life at 50+ revolves around healthcare and wellness in many ways. Plus, they put together the AARP Live Pitch event for healthcare companies to pitch their companies to a board of judges and then to the AARP members. The later was quite interesting to watch and who doesn’t love hearing from real customers.

After lunch, they also had a panel with executives from United Healthcare, Aetna, Humana and Walgreens to talk about what they look for when it comes to working with healthcare startup companies. There were some predictable things like “we focus on the team” and also some off the cuff remarks like the tweet embedded above about “stuff that actually works.”

One thing was clear that these companies were all in an evolution from their core business to something else. As one panel member said they were moving from a claims processing company to a wellness company. Another panel member said they didn’t see themselves as providing healthcare as much as enabling healthcare.

I was most interested to hear these executives talk about what they looked for in a company. The general consensus seemed to be that they wanted companies that understood their gaps and could fill their gaps. Although, when they were asked to talk about their gaps, the executives seemed to have a hard time describing their gaps. I think this is the core challenge. If they really knew their gaps, they’d be filling it themselves.

With that said, I did pull out a couple areas that seemed of great interest to the panel. Those two areas were medication compliance and getting patients to the right doctor. If you can help with either of those things, then your company would likely be of interest to these companies. Although, as the tweet at the top says, you better make sure it works before you think they’re going to work with you.

I also found it ironic that some on the panel wanted an end to end solution while another described them as looking for point solutions. At the end of the day, I don’t think they’d mind either solution if that solution provided value and had seen some traction. For example, one panelist talked about coordinated care, but they also said they wanted to see proof of the coordinated care in action and implemented in a hospital system.

I guess none of these things are too surprising. Find something where you have traction and provide value and you’ll have lots of opportunities.

Walgreens Starts Steps with Balance® Rewards

Posted on May 3, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Walgreens has been rather savvy when it comes to mHealth. They have a great mobile app and website to help manage prescriptions as well as find answers to health questions. It was no surprise to me when I heard about their Steps with Balance Rewards program.

If you are familiar with Walk with Walgreens, Steps with Balance® Rewards replace that program. Basically, you get rewards for doing simple exercise and health “tasks” throughout the day. By walking, running, or tracking weight management, you earn points that can be redeemed for products and other rewards at Walgreens.

There are a few popular devices that can be associated with your Steps with Balance account — BodyMedia, FitBit, and Withings. This makes it easier to earn rewards and track your progress.

I’m not sure if this is something I’ll sign up for, just because I feel like I have so many other programs I’m involved in, but it seems cool. It sounds like a good way to track your progress toward certain goals, and earn rewards while you are at it. It has the typical features of a health tracking program – you can connect with others, set personalized goals, and see your progress. It looks like it has been pretty successful so far, as there have been close to 10 million miles logged and around 600 thousand users. So if you shop at Walgreens a lot, and you are wanting to be rewarded for living a healthy life, this may be the program for you!

If you want to sign up, it’s free! Just head over here and get started today (and yes, it’s free)

1 Million Prescription Text Alerts Using Walgreens Prescription App

Posted on March 7, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I really love when people say that mobile healthcare is never going to happen. Of course, many people really don’t mean what they’re saying. What they’re really trying to say is that there’s not a full industry for just mobile healthcare apps. Instead, they argue that mobile will play a role in healthcare, but it will likely come from existing healthcare industry players.

I think this news coming out of Walgreens is an example of that. Last week, we got word that 4 months after its launch, the Walgreens prescription refill by scan has over 1 million subscribers to the prescription text alert service.

I saw this application at the CES conference (or maybe it was from one of Walgreen’s competitors). Sweet and simple. Just like consumers want in their apps. Props to Walgreens for launching their Refill by Scan application on both the iPhone and Android app marketplaces.

Here’s a quote from Walgreen’s President of e-Commerce, Sona Chawla:

“Our customers have enthusiastically adopted our mobile applications and we’re continuing to bring innovative technology to our online and mobile platforms to enhance the customer experience,” Sona Chawla, Walgreens President of E-commerce, stated in the company release. “With refill by scan, prescription text alerts, unique photo features and the ability to shop or browse products all available on a mobile device, we’re adding new levels of choice, control and convenience for our rapidly-growing numbers of mobile customers.”

I’m still interested to see how all of these mobile health applications evolve. Are we going to end up having 20-30 apps on our smart phones? Or is there going to be a few apps that take over and do most of the heavy lifting for mobile healthcare? Either way, I can tell were at the very beginning of what will be an exciting change for smart phones in health care.

CVS Joins Google Health

Posted on April 9, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The more I consider what Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault are doing, the more I think that they just might have found the real solution to interoperable health records. I’m still holding out final judgment, but I’m really impressed with some of the things there doing.

For example, Techcrunch reported that Google Health just recently partnered with CVS for Google Health to connect with CVS to try and create a comprehensive pharmacy history. Considering Google had previously signed up Longs Drugs and Walgreens, Google is making good head way towards this goal. No doubt Google Health is also in discussions with Wal-Mart and Target, two of the other major players in this space.

Of course, the next step is to get patients to actually start adopting this technology. I can’t see many pharmacists pushing this feature. In fact, I’m guessing this might be an annoyance for them to have to support. Patients are going to have to force the issue if they want to use this. At least until there’s widespread adoption.

We’ll also leave the privacy issues of these connections for another day as well. Either way, these types of partnerships are like gold for Google Health. It creates a good foundation to build their product. I just still like to see more connections with EHR software vendors. I haven’t seen as many of those happening as I’d like to see.