Walgreens is teaming up with more than a dozen health care providers—including physician house call startup Heal—in launching a new digital marketplace built to connect its online customers with store- and community-based services.
Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens is one of the nation’s largest drugstore chains and part of the Retail Pharmacy USA Division of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (Nasdaq: WBA). It announced the launch of its platform, known as Find Care Now, on Monday.
“People expect accessible quality care that fits their busy lives, and this is another way in which we’re continually evolving our business to bring health care services closer to our patients,” Richard Ashworth, president of operations for Walgreens, said in the announcement. “Find Care Now is part of a series of innovations to offer a true omnichannel experience for Walgreens customers, as we work with others in the health care community to improve access to affordable health care services in the communities we serve.”
The goal of Find Care Now is to make it easier for Walgreens customers to navigate and search for local and digital health care services, such as clinics, urgent care, telehealth, lab testing, physician second opinions and doctor house calls.
Seventeen health care providers from around the country are currently working with Walgreens via its Find Care Now tool, including Advocate Health Care in Chicago, Community Health Network in Indianapolis and SSM Health in St. Louis. The Los Angeles-based startup Heal, which recently raised $20 million in venture funding, is also among that list of providers.
Heal’s technology helps patients book physician house calls, typically for urgent care and routine illness visits. Since launching in 2015, Heal has raised more than $69 million and helped deliver more than 60,000 house calls.
By working with Walgreens, Heal hopes to increase awareness of its services, CEO Nick Desai told Home Health Care News.
“Walgreen’s Find Care Now platform aligns with Heal’s mission to make getting quality care as easy as a tap of a button,” Desai said. “While doctor house calls existed decades ago, bringing it back is still a paradigm shift for patients. We need to find every opportunity to educate families that there is a new-school version of the old-school house call.”
On a national level, doctor visits are on average between nine and 11 minutes, according to Heal. Visits coordinated through the startup, in comparison, last an average of about 28 minutes.
“When a doctor can spend time with you and see the context of your home and environment, they are better able to assess potential causes of health issues and provide a more personalized treatment plan,” Desai said. “Walgreens gives a platform to highlight the proven benefits of in-home care, and we are thrilled that their customers can partake in this health care revolution.”
Heal is available throughout most of California, plus Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia. The startup, which also recently rolled out at-home allergy testing as part of its offerings, expects continued geographic expansion throughout the next year.
“We expect to continue to expand service offerings because the more that can be delivered to a patient at home, the more likely health will improve,” Desai said. “To strengthen the doctor-patient relationship, we will continue to find ways to integrate new technologies, including telemedicine, in-app messaging and remote monitoring.”
Monday’s announcement marks the latest move by Walgreens to boost its status as a leading health care enterprise.
In June, Walgreens announced it was teaming up with insurance company Humana (NYSE: HUM) on a pilot initiative opening senior-focused primary care clinics in two stores located in Kansas City, Missouri.
As of June 28, Walgreens operated about 9,800 drugstores in all 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
About 400 Walgreens stores offer health care clinics or other provider retail clinic services, according to the company. Roughly 8 million customers interact with Walgreen’s in stores and online daily.
Find Care Now will work with Walgreens Healthcare Clinics, Walgreens Hearing and Walgreens Optical.
Participating providers also include Baptist Health, Florida Hospital, LabCorp, MDLIVE, MedExpress Urgent Care, Piedmont Healthcare and UHealth. The platform will also connect interested customers to DermatologistOnCall, a national online dermatology service.
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, working in collaboration with Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center, will also participate in Find Care Now. So, too, will Providence St. Joesph Health, including Providence Express Care in Portland and Swedish Express Care in Seattle.
Written by Robert Holly