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Walgreens, Microsoft Announce mHealth, Telehealth Partnership

Walgreens and Microsoft have unveiled a connected health partnership that will include enhanced telehealth and mHealth services, digital health stations and a broad platform for connecting consumers, providers and payers.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- Microsoft is teaming up with Walgreens to create a connected health platform that includes telehealth stations, digital health tools and a “seamless ecosystem” that connects the consumer to providers, payers and others in the healthcare landscape.

“Improving health outcomes while lowering the cost of care is a complex challenge that requires broad collaboration and strong partnership between the healthcare and tech industries,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a news release issued by the tech giant. “Together with Walgreens Boots Alliance, we aim to deliver on this promise by putting people at the center of their health and wellness, combining the power of the Azure cloud and AI technology and Microsoft 365 with Walgreens Boots Alliance’s deep expertise and commitment to helping communities around the world lead healthier and happier lives.”

The partnership is the latest in a long list of collaborations aimed at pushing healthcare out of the hospital or clinic and into pharmacies, markets and other retail sites, with the goal of giving consumers on-demand access to providers, services and mHealth tools when and where they want them.

Just last year, CVS announced a partnership with Teladoc Health to integrate the latter’s telehealth platform with the CVS Health’s MinuteClinic through the CVS Pharmacy App, just a few weeks after Rite-Aid announced a deal with InTouch Health to provide its virtual care platform for kiosks and other “alternative care sites” in Rite Aid pharmacies across the country.

Walgreens was also active in the space. The chain unveiled its new “Find Care Now” connected health platform, including a connection to MDLive’s telehealth platform, and a partnership between Anthem and American Well to give its members access to non-urgent care on mobile devices through the Samsung Health app.

The latest deal brings Silicon Valley into the mix.

“Our strategic partnership with Microsoft demonstrates our strong commitment to creating integrated, next-generation, digitally enabled healthcare delivery solutions for our customers, transforming our stores into modern neighborhood health destinations and expanding customer offerings,” Stefano Pessina, WBA’s Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said in the release. “WBA will work with Microsoft to harness the information that exists between payers and healthcare providers to leverage, in the interest of patients and with their consent, our extraordinary network of accessible and convenient locations to deliver new innovations, greater value and better health outcomes in health care systems across the world.”

The two companies plan to use Microsoft resources to better facilitate digital health connections between consumers and Walgreens pharmacies through mHealth devices. This includes incorporating AI technology to help consumers improve their conversations with providers (and vice versa) and steer them toward appropriate health and wellness resources.

“Working with patients’ health care providers, the companies will proactively engage their patients to improve medication adherence, reduce emergency room visits and decrease hospital readmissions,” the two companies announced in their press release. “Core to this model is data privacy, security and consent, which will be fundamental design principles, underscored by Microsoft’s investments in building a trusted cloud platform.”

“WBA and Microsoft will also focus on enabling more personalized healthcare experiences from preventative self-care to chronic disease management,” they added. “WBA will pursue lifestyle management solutions in areas such as nutrition and wellness via customers’ delivery method of choice, including digital devices and digital applications or in-store expert advice.”

The partnership begins with the development of 12 “digital health corners” this year in selected Walgreens pharmacies to market mHealth hardware and devices.

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