Walgreens avoids you having to go to the doctor’s
Walgreens signed a partnership with American start-up Pager at the end of October. Currently operating in New York and San Francisco, it allows a patient to book a visit by a doctor or nurse at home, at the office or in a hotel in under two hours. Created by one of Uber’s founders, the application enhances the customer experience: global positioning, detailed profile of the practitioner, online payment, etc. For Eric Beck, Evolution Health CEO and partner of Pager, the application “is as simple and intuitive as ordering an Uber”.
For Walgreens and Adam Pellegrini, its VP in charge of digital, the aim is to “offer customers unequalled access to a network of healthcare professionals”.
In 2014, Walgreens joined forces with MDLIVE, the number 1 in telehealth in the United States, to allow sick persons to consult a doctor by videoconference and on their mobile, tablet or computer for 49 dollars. In June 2015, the drugstore chain decided to extend this “Virtual Doctor” service to 25 American states by the end of 2015.
Proof that the partnership, initially formed with MDLIVE California and Michigan for December 2014, works.
These two Walgreens initiatives are not isolated cases.
In Finland, the municipality of Hämeenlinna, which has more than 70,000 inhabitants, launched a virtual clinic last March. Developed with the backing of the public investment fund Sitra, it allows patients to access their medical records from their homes and also to analyse their symptoms online. As Jari Numminen, from the municipality of Hämeenlinna, says “if the symptoms require urgent treatment, the computer will guide the sick person to the nearest appropriate medical service”. Thus the benefits are shared by all parties concerned. The customer saves time and the hospitals thus avoid treating non-urgent pathologies. After six months’ testing, the deployment of the “minunterveyteni.fi” service to the biggest Finnish towns (Espoo, Helsinki, Tampere, Turku, Oulu, etc.) is already planned.
The consumer quickly internalizes the benefit or telemedicine, new alliances are emerging, arousing the envy of all players, both long-established and new market entrants, Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon (*) and Baidu, Alibaba Tencent (*). Tencent and Ping An Venture have just invested 5 million dollars in the Australian start-up Clinicloud. This start-up sells a connected medical kit and the services of the “Doctor On Demand” network, only available at the moment in the United States. As for Google, it has just signed a partnership with the Sanofi laboratory to combat diabetes. According to Pascale Witz, executive VP of Sanofi’s new global entity “Diabetes and Cardiovascular”, “ to be effective we have to join forces with partners having skills in other field, like Google in technology, miniaturization, connectivity, data analysis”.
Because these services address a twofold challenge: control of data and the promise of a seamless customer experience. For Adam Pellegrini, the course has been mapped out: “telehealth can play an important part in helping patients by offering them seamless omni-channel healthcare”. By making customers’ lives easier, no doubt that they will become loyal customers over the long term.