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Walgreens Digital Health Tool to Drive Patient Care Access

The Walgreens Find Care Now tool will help patients view different care site options, ideally easing patient care access.

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Source: Thinkstock

By Sara Heath

- Walgreens is stepping into the digital and connect health industry with the launch of its Find Care Now platform, a tool aimed at improving patient care access.

The platform will connect patients with care services at various Walgreens locations and a number of vetted healthcare organizations and hospitals. Find Care Now will serve as a seamless health technology that helps patients field neighborhood health clinics, urgent care and retail clinics, telehealth sites, lab testing sites, and areas for physician second opinions, Walgreens noted in its announcement.

This tool should help promote better patient access to care, according to Walgreens president of operations Richard Ashworth.

“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,” Ashworth said in a public statement. “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.”

Walgreens intends Find Care Now to reduce the number of unnecessary emergency department visits, which can cause a major surge in healthcare spending due to the high costs in the ED.

The healthcare industry is currently host to a number of specialized healthcare facilities that serve as an alternative to ED visits. However, limited patient education about these alternative care sites hinder patient use. Ideally, Find Care Now will help patients know about the different care options they have before accessing a costly emergency department.

Specifically, Find Care Now will help connect patients to primary care from either nurse practitioners or physicians. Additionally, it should help connect patients with behavioral healthcare, optometry, and dermatology providers.

“Through market research, our customers showed they would welcome Walgreens as an online source of information about health care solutions and telemedicine,” said Giovanni Monti, vice president and director of healthcare innovation at Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.

“By combining digital assets with our strong local footprint, Walgreens offers a unique and convenient model for patients to find care built around their needs. In addition, we have a growing number of provider health care collaborations and a product development roadmap that will soon add more valuable features to Find Care Now.”

Patients can filter care sites based upon their location and their health condition, making it easier for them to see relevant and appropriate care recommendations, Walgreens added. The tool also offers price transparency functions and digital appointment scheduling.

Walgreens has 17 partner organizations offering their service data for the app. Currently partnering with Walgreens is NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, which believes the app will help support patient access to care.

“We are pleased to collaborate with Walgreens to expand access to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital’s world-class care through this convenient new platform, Find Care Now,” said Peter M. Fleischut, MD, senior vice president and chief transformation officer at NewYork-Presbyterian. “Through NYP OnDemand, our suite of digital health services, NewYork-Presbyterian can reach more patients in need of our care and help make our communities healthier.”

Provident St. Joseph Health has also partnered with Walgreens for the app, saying the care tool will help empower patients to control their own healthcare.

“We want to put healthcare consumers in the driver's seat,” said Sunita Mishra, MD, MBA, chief executive of Express Care, an offshoot of Providence St. Joseph. “We believe that taking care of your health should be as convenient and flexible as any retail experience. Providence St. Joseph Health’s Express Care services, now offered through Walgreens Find Care Now and the Providence Health Connect app, make it easy to find and book care close to home or work.”

Other Walgreens partners currently include:

  • Advocate Health Care, Chicago
  • Baptist Health, Jacksonville, Florida
  • Community Health Network, Indianapolis
  • DermatologistOnCall, national online dermatology service
  • Florida Hospital, Tampa
  • Heal, on-demand doctor house calls in California, Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia
  • LabCorp, lab testing and diagnostics
  • MDLIVE, national telehealth service
  • MedExpress Urgent Care, an Optum company and provider of neighborhood medical care
  • Piedmont Healthcare, Atlanta
  • SSM Health, St. Louis
  • UHealth – The University of Miami Health System, Miami
  • Walgreens Healthcare Clinics
  • Walgreens Hearing
  • Walgreens Optical

Walgreens reported it expects more organizations to join the app in coming months.

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