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Q&A: Talking innovation strategy with CVS’ Brian Tilzer

BY Dan Berthiaume

BOSTON — Brian Tilzer, SVP and chief digital officer of CVS Health, sat down with Drug Store News at the opening of the CVS Digital Innovation Lab in Boston on June 18  to discuss the strategy behind the lab and CVS’ larger goals for transforming healthcare through digital technology.

How does the Digital Innovation Lab fit in with CVS Health’s larger mission of leveraging digital technology to improve healthcare?
Our vision is to leverage digital technology to do good things that were previously impossible. A major challenge is that digital technologies and channels are evolving so rapidly. You have to understand how the technology is changing and how the customer will respond when they use a new digital solution.

The Digital Innovation Lab enables us to experiment with what’s unknown and bring it to what’s known and perform iterative testing. Also, innovation is happening all over the place and is not just limited to what CVS Health is developing ourselves. The lab lets us work with other technology firms, both big companies and start-ups, and effectively put ideas through the experimentation model.

Since you joined the company in 2013, CVS has tripled its investment in digital technology. How does the Digital Innovation Lab build on this investment?
We tripled our digital technology investment and are now doubling it again. A lot of the program is focused on mobile. We are all carrying these super-powerful devices all the time. How do you leverage that for a better patient experience?

We now have top-rated retail, specialty and pharmacy benefit management apps. We have introduced and expanded text messaging so 20 million people are now picking up and refilling prescriptions with text. We brought texting into the Minute Clinic so people can register by smartphone when they arrive at the store, then shop and get a text when they are next in line.

That’s why we rolled out the latest mobile technology –beacons – in our stores. When you walk into the store with our app on your mobile device the beacons will recognize you and provide information that is pertinent to your visit.

Also, it’s important to note that we are not trying to market with mobile, but solve pain points and provide services and utility. Twenty million people would not have given us their mobile numbers if we just sent promotions.

An increasing number of large retailers are opening proprietary innovation labs. Is this being driven by broader industry trends?
There are some commonalities. We’re trying to rapidly experiment and go from unknown to known in an 8,000-store chain. Larger retailers need operational disciplines to build things at a certain scale and figure out if innovations work.

Specifically in healthcare, investment in digital technology has taken off. There was a total of $4 billion invested in digital healthcare last year. The lab will help us engage with start-ups who do certain things especially well.

Can you provide an update on any of your work with start-ups?
We’re working with start-ups on a number of customer-facing solutions. For example, we’re working with a start-up called Livongo, which has a device to take the blood glucose readings of diabetes patients and automatically upload them so they can get a call from a clinician if anything is unusual.

We’re also working with a start-up called Mango Health, which targets medical adherence with “gaming tools” that encourage people to take prescriptions by providing incentives when they acknowledge taking a prescription. The app forces patients to think about their medications.

How does personalization fit into your lab efforts?
Personalization is the underlying theme to everything we do. Mobile is incredibly personal – you carry it all the time. The future of our ExtraCare rewards program hinges on personalization delivered by mobile tools. Mobile is the perfect way for customers to engage with ExtraCare. We’re leveraging mobile and other digital tools to make the experience better.

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WAG’s Beth Stiller to discuss earning ‘share of heart’ at upcoming thought leadership event

BY Antoinette Alexander

DENVER — Did you know that your personal leadership story matters? To shed light on why diversity of thought, self-evaluation and personalizing your own story is the only way to true leadership effectiveness, Walgreens’ Beth Stiller will take the stage as a speaker during the upcoming thought leadership event to be hosted by Drug Store News and the Mack Elevation Forum on Aug. 21.

Stiller, who serves as Walgreens’ group VP, retail brands and global sourcing, will share why earning “share of heart” with your team is the heart of team cohesiveness and a healthy culture. Deep listening, empathy, trust and collaboration are the currency of the new economy.

This powerful event will start a day before the opening of the NACDS Total Store Expo and will challenge attendees to think differently about brand building, breaking through to today’s consumer, why “share of heart” matters in the currency of the new economy, how mobile and social are changing the rules, and what’s next in a totally connected, global retail world.

Additional speakers include —

•  Meg Columbia-Walsh, global lead of digital innovation and marketing excellence at Ernst & Young;
•  Bryan Gildenberg, chief knowledge officer at Kantar Retail;
•  Ryan Olohan, head of health care at  Google;
•  Karuna Rawal, EVP business lead at Arc/Leo Burnett Group;
•  Marc Landsberg, president/COO at Social Deviant;
•  Greg Kahn, advisor at Internet of Things Consortium; and
•  Gary Preston, CEO of Preston Partners.

“People need to attend and take time from their busy schedules to gain fresh insights and ideas from cutting-edge experts in their related fields to help grow your business,” DSN publisher Wayne Bennett said. “We also strive to provide an environment for industry leaders and those interested in gaining new ideas that matter to your business and a place where you can learn what’s next and stay ahead of the competition.”
 
For registration information, visit theelevationsummit.com. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Wayne Bennett at wbennett@drugstorenews.com.

 

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Next up for Alibaba: Robots

BY Marianne Wilson

TOKYO — Alibaba wants to put a robot, specifically one named Pepper, in your home — or store.

The Chinese e-commerce giant and Foxconn Technology Group announced they are each investing $117.8 million in Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank’s robotics unit, SoftBank Robotics Holding Corp. Softbank will own 60% of the joint venture, with Alibaba and Foxconn each holding ownership stakes of 20%.

The three companies  plan to bring SoftBank’s human-like robot, Pepper, to global markets, envisioning it for use across a range of sectors, ranging from healthcare to at home. Pepper is already in use in some stores in Japan, including SoftBank’s mobile phone shops where it welcomes customers. 

The white plastic robot was designed by French robotics company Aldebaran Robotics, a subsidiary of SoftBank. Billed as the “world’s first personal robot with emotions,” it can reportedly recognize human voices and read facial expressions and body language. It can also carry on basic conversations.

"As we enter the data technology era, robotics will become a critical field that catalyzes technological breakthroughs in numerous sectors such as healthcare, public services, research and at home,” said jack Ma, founder and executive chairman, Alibaba Group Holdings. “We are delighted to play an active role in the emerging field of robotics, that with cutting-edge technology and transformative products and services, can positively impact millions of lives.”

SoftBank plan to make the robot available to the public on Saturday.

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