Walgreens is one of the most innovative tech & pharmacy companies in the US today.
Whereas the average consumer knows them for their retail stores, there’s a lot more going on at Walgreens which is revolutionizing the company from within.
Today we speak with Giovanni Monti, who oversees Health Innovations at Walgreens about the coolest digital experiences the retail has in the oven for 2019. A must read for anyone interested in healthcare innovation!
∙ What do you think of the current state of the pharmaceutical industry with regards to efforts to digitize and introduce new technology?
Digital technologies, both online and mobile, offer great opportunities for pharmacies to serve patients. Many players in the industry are seeking to take advantage of these technologies, but we are hopeful that Walgreens has secured a place at the forefront through innovations like Find Care Now. Our mobile app has been especially popular because of features like refill-by-scan, paperless coupons, photo processing and Balance Rewards for healthy choices. Even among older users we have high rates of customer usage because we’ve designed our mobile app for ease-of-use even by people who are not in the habit of using mobile apps on a regular basis.
∙ What impediments do you think are hindering the pharma space from making progress? What is the Walgreens Boots Alliance doing to accelerate the progress?
One consideration is patient privacy, something health care providers take extra steps to protect, compared to other customer relationships. We’re strict about guarding privacy, both because it’s legally required and because it’s an important part of earning patient trust. There are many health care solutions we can offer now and will offer in the future, but only with appropriate safeguards.
∙ What is Find Care Now? What benefit does it provide to consumers and the industry as a whole? What is the vision for the platform going forward?
Walgreens Find Care Now is a digital platform and marketplace that helps connect our millions of mobile and online visitors to health care services at our stores and to a growing selection of recognized providers in the community. When we announced it we had 17 participating providers, many of them regional health care providers that have earned the trust of patients after years of service in their communities. Together with them we are building a powerful omnichannel role as a convenient and trusted neighborhood health care destination.
Let’s say, for example, you’re a mom and a dad and your 7-year-old daughter has a very sore throat. It is strep throat? You’re traveling, so you can’t visit her pediatrician. You pick up your mobile phone, open the Walgreens app, and select Find Care Now. Online, and coming soon to the mobile app, there’s a drop-down menu where you easily find “ears, nose and throat.” You find three options from which to choose. Two are telemedicine options from two different providers, either of whom can connect you online to a live doctor. One telemedicine provider displays a price up front that’s a little less than the other. A third option is a health care clinic co-located at a local Walgreens that’s right nearby. Each has a price displayed ranging from $49 for a doctor online to $149 for a health care clinic nearby. All are good choices, all easily identified thanks to Walgreens Find Care Now, all with prices displayed.
Find Care Now makes it easier for customers to navigate and search for local and digital health care services, with offerings in certain markets as varied as neighborhood health care clinics, urgent care, telehealth, lab testing, physician second opinions, and even physician house calls and optical and hearing services in certain markets.
∙ How do you think the next ten years will look for the pharmaceutical industry from a technological and digital standpoint?
Find Care Now is part of a series of innovations to offer a true omnichannel experience for Walgreens customers. We intend to work with others in the health care community to improve access to affordable health care services in the communities we serve.
Our market research showed customers would welcome Walgreens as an online and mobile source of information about health care solutions. In addition, we combine excellent digital assets with an exceptional local footprint, because we have drugstore locations within 5 miles of 76 percent of the U.S. population. When we look to our digital future, when we consider technology solutions to health care challenges, we are most interested in those that bring us closer to our patients and improve and personalize care in a way that’s convenient and right in their neighborhood.
[Update December 10th 2018]: Interested in learning more about the history of telemedicine and the biggest players on the market? Check out our ultimate guide to telemedicine.