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2nd Florida Health System Launches a Telehealth Deal With Publix

Flagler Health+ joins BayCare Health in collaborating with Publix to put telehealth kiosks in selected supermarkets. It's the latest in a growing trend of healthcare-retail connected health partnerships.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- A second Florida health system has forged a partnership with Publix to put telehealth kiosks in supermarkets.

Flagler Health+, a St. Augustine-based health network based around Flagler Hospital, plans to open kiosks in in three Publix markets in St. John’s County, while Public will open a branded pharmacy in the hospital.

“Publix is dedicated to serving our communities, and using technology to make health care more convenient and affordable is one way we can improve the lives of our customers and associates,” Publix Vice President of Pharmacy Dain Rusk said in a press release. “We believe this collaboration reflects our common values and will allow both of our organizations to provide better access to health care for everyone in the area.”

Publix announced its first partnership with a health system in early 2017, forging a deal with the Clearwater-based BayCare Health System to place branded pharmacies in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, St. Anthony’s Hospital’s Suncoast Medical Clinic in St. Petersburg and Morton Plant Hospital’s Doyle Tower in Clearwater. The three-year deal aims to place more than two-dozen connected health kiosks in Publix locations by 2020, while Publix will eventually operate five pharmacies in BayCare hospitals.

Publix already has pharmacies inside the Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando’s Lake Nona Medical City, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Moffitt McKinley Campus in Tampa and Lakeland Regional Medical Center in Lakeland.

The partnerships are seen as an opportunity to expand a health system’s reach into retail areas where consumers are looking for healthcare options. For Publix, they represent an opportunity to fit into the care management plan at the most convenient time.

“It isn’t just about filling prescriptions as patients leave the hospital - it’s about providing a continuum of convenient medical care,” Publix Vice President Fred Ottolino said in March 2017, when the BayCare deal was announced.

But they can backfire.

In 2015, Rite Aid launched a partnership with kiosk maker HealthSpot to open roughly two dozen clinics in select stores in Ohio, offering telehealth links to health systems like the Cleveland Clinic, Kettering Health Network and University Hospitals, as well as pediatric services from UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

That deal fell apart when the 40-square-foot kiosks ultimately became too expensive to maintain, and HealthSpot eventually went bankrupt.

Still, the retail-healthcare trend is gaining steam. Last year, UPMC announced plans to place branded kiosks in Giant Eagle supermarkets. Farther up the East Coast, NewYork-Presbyterian and Walgreen’s have an ongoing partnership. And direct-to-consumer telehealth companies Teladoc Health, InTouch Health and MDLive all have skin in the game as well. In addition, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, meanwhile, has joined forces with Walmart.

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