- UPMC is extending its telemedicine platform into supermarkets, joining a connected health industry trend that sees consumers shopping for groceries, pharmaceutical products and healthcare all in one location.
The Pittsburgh-based health system announced in mid-December that it will be placing UPMC Anywhere Care kiosks in three Giant Eagle supermarkets, and plans to add more locations in the 410-store chain in the future.
“As the name says, we want our world-renowned UPMC care to be available to our patients anywhere, including the grocery store where they might already be looking for over-the-counter remedies,” Natasa Sokolovich, executive director of telehealth for UPMC, said in a Dec. 14 press release. “With UPMC AnywhereCare already available on smartphones, tablets and personal computers, our partnership with Giant Eagle is one more way to make our high-quality care accessible to patients when and where they want it.”
The 40-hospital health system joins a growing number of providers partnering with supermarkets, pharmacies and other retail companies to push branded telehealth and telemedicine services out to consumers where and when they want access to care.
In late 2017, Florida’s BayCare Health System partnered with Publix to locate telehealth stations in three of the supermarket chain’s stores, part of a three-pronged effort to expand connected health services to the community through new channels. In exchange, Publix is handling in-house pharmacy services at BayCare hospitals.
“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 partnership was announced.
Shortly thereafter, NewYork-Presbyterian announced a partnership with Walgreen’s, placing telehealth kiosks in some of the pharmacy chain’s New York City locations. The kiosks are part of the NYP OnDemand platform, developed in a collaboration with Weill Cornell Medicine and ColumbiaDoctors.
For UPMC, the partnership opens another avenue to healthcare access in a highly competitive market. The three stores targeted for kiosks now are in Pittsburgh, Monroeville and Homestead, while Giant Eagle’s reach extends beyond western Pennsylvania with stores in Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana.
The kiosks, located in a separate room in the pharmacy area, enable consumers aged 3 and older to connect on a virtual care platform with a UPMC provider for a variety of non-urgent concerns, including colds, infections and allergies. The kiosk is also equipped with mHealth-enabled blood pressure cuffs, thermometers and otoscopes.
DTC telehealth providers are also getting in on the action. This year alone saw partnerships announced between Teladoc Health and CVS, InTouch Health and Rite Aid and Walgreen’s and MDLive.