Telehealth dials in the age of Omnichannel Health
As we raced to close this issue of Drug Store News, it sure had been a busy week for telehealth news, and by that measure, no headline was bigger than the news that Walgreens had decided to expand its partnership with Web-MD into three more states — Illinois, Washington and Colorado. Walgreens and WebMD first introduced the joint telehealth venture back in December, initially launching in California and Michigan. Apparently, that was a successful test run. According to Forbes, the two plan to have the service available in 25 states by the end of the year.
Not alone, news broke a day later that Wegmans was testing a telehealth concept in four markets — Dewitt, N.Y., Niagara Falls, N.Y., Fairfax, Va., and Allentown, Pa. According to the Syracuse Post-Standard, through the Doctor on Demand service, users can see doctors and psychologists online via their desktops, smart-phones and tablets for about $40; important, those without access to their own technology can use the service via an in-store kiosk at Wegmans.
The kiosk is an important element of the model, as it keeps community pharmacy at the center of healthcare delivery.
Similarly, Rite Aid has been working on a telehealth pilot with its partner, HealthSpot, in three Ohio markets — Cleveland, Dayton and Akron — which also has a strong in-store presence with the HealthSpot Health station, a self-contained, private consultation “pod.”
It all points to a new “O” word for the industry to buzz about for a while. Hold onto your iPads as we enter the brave new world of Omnichannel Health.
“Our society truly values anytime, any where convenience,” said Adam Pelegrini, Walgreens divisional VP digital health. “And with a growing need for access to affordable healthcare services, we believe telehealth solutions can play an important role in helping to improve patient outcomes, and continues our mission to provide a seamless, omnichannel digital health experience.”
Besides being a really cool thing to say that makes me feel smarter just writing about it now, what exactly does Omnichannel Health mean, and what does it look like?
Pelegrini expanded a bit in an April interview. “As we look at digital health, we see it as an omnichannel experience, meaning that it’s not just about the digital technology and the neat and cool things around apps,” Pelegrini told Healthcare IT News. “It’s about how all of those things layer on top of our brick-and-mortar stores.”
Survey: Stress keeps Americans up at night
You don’t need a poll to know that sleep, or rather the lack thereof, has become a big deal for Americans. According to IRI, Americans spent more than $439.6 million on nonprescription sleeping remedies for the 52 weeks ended April 19 in U.S. multi-outlets. Those sales were up 5.9% compared with the year-ago period.
That’s nothing to yawn at.
The fact is, Americans aren’t getting enough sleep from Sunday. On average, it’s taking more than an hour for adults to fall sleep after climbing into bed Sunday night, according to a Harris Poll commissioned by Procter & Gamble of more than 2,000 adults.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult employee is getting to bed five minutes before 11 p.m., and waking 7 hours and 43 minutes later. That might sound good, given that the NSF recommends people get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. However, more than one-third of Americans report their sleep quality as “poor” or only “fair.” And 1-in-4 women report not feeling well-rested at all in the previous four days, compared with 16% of men, NSF reported.
So, what’s keeping them up at nights? Stress. That’s what 68% of respondents pointed to as the reason they’re not getting enough sleep. And 29% reported that not getting enough sleep on Sunday impacted their performance throughout the week.
Will wearable devices boost sleep aid sales?
What impact might wearable devices have on the sale of sleep aids in the future? The impact could be significant. While consumers have not fully embraced wearable health technology in large numbers, they are interested, according to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute report.
According to the report, only 21% of consumers currently own a wearable product, but 45% were likely to buy the kind of fitness bands that track sleep patterns in the next 12 months.
Compare that to another survey — this one a recent Sleep Number study — that found that only 16% of Americans are actively tracking their sleep today. As more consumers buy fitness bands and begin tracking their sleep patterns, only to find that they’re not sleeping well, many may turn to sleep aids to help them sleep better at night.