Higi: Empowering patients with information
How can pharmacy retailers and their vendor partners help make health care more accountable, accessible and cost-effective? And what role can they play to help their customers to lead longer, healthier lives?
(Click here to download the full Retail Health Summit special report.)
Start with the fact that “70% of our [health] costs are preventable in the sense that we can change our lifestyle habits,” said Jeff Bennett, CEO of higi, a leading provider of in-store health kiosks. “When you can get that consumer to say, ‘I’m going to advocate for myself and take that first step,’ that’s [a] big change.”
It’s about engaging patients in their own health regimens, said Bennett, a member of the panel on retail health technology. The success of retail-based, health-and-wellness offerings will depend in large part on the ability of pharmacists, retail clinicians and others to educate their customers about the state of their own health, connect them with the health provider community and encourage them to adopt healthier behaviors.
“You have to find people and help them create those [healthy] habits early — find those with at-risk issues and stop them before it becomes a problem,” Bennett said. “How do we get consumers engaged in healthy habits on a regular basis? You want them going to the most affordable place to get care as soon as possible so they don’t get sick, and the retailer is the central place where you can do that very cost-effectively … [as] a partner with the healthcare system.”
With its self-testing diagnostic stations now offered in thousands of U.S. pharmacies, higi is in the business of “providing the tools for our partners that want a retail strategy” for providing health-and-wellness services, “and don’t have the technology to do it,” Bennett added.
Seven signs of the retail health revolution
In June, Drug Store News and Mack Elevation Forum co-hosted an exclusive one-day Retail Health Summit in Bentonville, Ark. Here are my seven takeaways:
- Health care is a journey: The rise of consumerism is driving health care to a patient-centered, omnichannel model — 80% of patients begin their healthcare journey online. Meet customers where they are, mapping patient journeys and creating relevant touchpoints and personalized solutions on their personal journey.
- Food, exercise is the new medicine: The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program enables physicians to write “prescriptions” for fruits and vegetables for low-income, at-risk consumers that can be redeemed at participating retailers and local farmers’ markets. Tulane University’s School of Medicine created the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine — the first of its kind. Goldring is licensing its culinary nutrition curriculum to 25 other medical schools. And, Exercise is Medicine, an initiative of the American College of Sports Medicine, is working to create fitness prescriptions. An EIM program in Vermont is providing doctors with prescriptions for outdoor exercise — redeemable for a free day pass at all state parks.
- Loneliness is the new smoking: According to AARP, 1-in-4 people over the age of 45 is chronically lonely. Loneliness can lead to serious medical problems. More than half of people with chronic conditions also suffer from loneliness, including patients diagnosed with obesity (43%), sleep disorders (45%), chronic pain (47%) and anxiety (56%). Patients with a strong “sense of purpose”had 17% fewer hospitalizations.
- Prevention is the new sustainability: Consumers expect brands to help keep them healthy, according to research from Edelman. The post-2008, recession-addled consumer expects all companies, from healthcare providers (90%) to food and beverage makers (89%), brewing companies and spirit makers (82%) and even banks (77%) to engage them in their health care. In fact, health is one area where consumers are willing to pay a little more — 55% said they would pay up to 10% more for a healthier version of a product.
- Retail is the center of new healthcare ecosystem: Eighty-two percent of consumers expect retailers to engage them in health, according to Edelman. The store can make a connection to the consumer, drive loyalty and create “connective tissue” that goes beyond blips and bytes.
- Home is the new long-term care solution: The number of Americans living in multigenerational homes has more than doubled since 1980 to 60 million people, according to the Pew Research Center. One-third of adults expect to eventually share their home with an elderly parent, according to home builder PolteGroup. According to AARP, more than 40 million Americans provide unpaid care for an adult. Nearly half of all caregivers care for someone over the age of 75 — and 1-in-10 is over the age of 75. Technology could — and should — play a role here. But while 71% of caregivers are interested in using technology to support their caregiving tasks, only 7% are using available technologies.
- Balancing humanity and technology: Clearly, retail has the opportunity to take on a greater role as the care coach for the community. Technology will help light the way toward solutions, but there is no denying the importance of the human touch. The future of healthcare data will be highly personalized, synthesized and easy to monitor and consume.
Rob Eder is the associate publisher/editor in chief of Drug Store News.
CVS Health’s Project Health to deliver $8 million in free health services in 2016
WOONSOCKET, R.I. – CVS Health on Wednesday announced the rollout of Project Health, its annual free health services campaign, at select CVS Pharmacy locations in 10 multicultural communities across the country. Beginning Thursday, Sept. 8 and running through Dec. 18, nearly $8 million worth of free health services will be delivered at more than 500 Project Health events.
Since 2006, Project Health has delivered more than $112 million worth of free health care services to nearly 872,000 people, many of whom are uninsured or underinsured.
"Despite the increased number of Americans who have become insured over the past five years, there are still barriers to quality care, such as cost and access, for many patients," stated Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer CVS Health. "Project Health is part of CVS Health's commitment to improving access to quality care by identifying health concerns and risk factors for participants who may not have otherwise sought preventative care."
Project Health offers an array of free comprehensive health risk assessments, including blood pressure, Body Mass Index, glucose and total cholesterol screenings. Once screened, CVS Pharmacy helps patients through on-site consultations with bilingual (English/Spanish) nurse practitioners or physician assistants who will analyze results and refer patients who require additional medical attention to no-cost or low-cost medical facilities nearby or to their primary care physician. CVS pharmacists are also available to conduct one-on-one medication reviews and answer any questions patients may have.
"The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services applauds CVS Health on their Project Health initiative," said Kevin Counihan, director and Marketplace CEO at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "We thank them for their continued commitment to providing free health screenings and educational materials ensuring better health for many Americans."
Over the past 10 years, high rates of certain treatable conditions among Project Health participants have been identified, including:
- 53% were found to be overweight or obese;
- 38% had abnormal blood pressure readings;
- 26% had abnormal glucose readings; and
- 37% were found to have abnormal cholesterol levels.
Project Health events, held in markets with large multicultural populations, are open to all consumers regardless of race, gender or insurance status and do not require an appointment. Current locations include Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Project Health events are also being held at select CVS Pharmacy stores in Puerto Rico through November on Saturdays and Sundays.