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Walgreens expands telehealth as COVID-19 demands social distancing

Walgreens Find Care now includes a COVID-19 risk assessment powered by Microsoft Healthcare Bot on Microsoft Azure.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Walgreens has announced the expansion of its telehealth program to include a COVID-19 risk assessment, information on clinical trials and a greater number of providers.

The updated Walgreens Find Care platform on a mobile health app and website now includes a COVID-19 risk assessment, powered by Microsoft Healthcare Bot, that runs on Microsoft Azure and helps users assess their risk of COVID-19, based on CDC guidelines.

Additionally, patients can learn about COVID-19 clinical trials by using the Find My Clinical Trial program.

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National and regional partners have been added for patients to virtually connect with more than 30 providers, including many in states currently most impacted by COVID-19, such as New York, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Michigan and Florida.

New Walgreens Find Care collaborations include AmWell, Hospital Sisters Health System Medical Group, McLaren Health Care and Novant Health.

Walgreens has expanded its services with Providence St. Joseph Health's ExpressCare Virtual, Heal and Village Medical.

Walgreens Find Care, through an app on a mobile device or a computer, helps patients navigate to health systems and telehealth providers where they can connect with a doctor or nurse practitioner to receive care for common health and wellness needs like illness and injury, cough and cold, mental health services, and chronic-condition management.

In addition, using the Walgreens app, patients can fill their prescriptions at Walgreens and choose their delivery option, which includes in-store pickup, drive-thru or delivery to their home.

Walgreens is waiving delivery fees for all eligible prescriptions on next-day delivery at this time. Patients can also connect with a Walgreens pharmacist using Pharmacy Chat available online or through the Walgreens app.

WHY THIS MATTERS

The launch of additional features and providers on Walgreens Find Care coincides with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to use telehealth to help address medical needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has allowed new flexibility in the use of telehealth.

Walgreens' expanded use of telehealth services is another example of pharmacies' greater involvement in the healthcare space, both working with, and competing against, traditional providers using the convenience of thousands of pharmacies nationwide.

For instance, CVS Health has plans to dive deeper into consumer-centric healthcare by opening another 1,500 HealthHubs by the end of 2021.

THE LARGER TREND

Walgreens Find Care launched in July 2018 to connect consumers to healthcare providers. The use of the Walgreens mobile app is up 22% over last year, the company said, and 12% year-to-date as more patients turn to digital health services during the pandemic.

Walgreens, one of the nation's largest drugstore chains, is in the Retail Pharmacy USA Division of Walgreens Boots Alliance.

ON THE RECORD

"The recent expansion of Walgreens Find Care is another example of how we are enabling patients to get care when and how they need it," said Giovanni Monti, senior vice president of healthcare services for Walgreens Boots Alliance. "We continue to grow our partnerships with some of the most trusted local and national providers to offer telehealth solutions that can help patients better meet their acute and chronic care needs, especially during this unprecedented time of social distancing."

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com