Rite Aid pushes for telemedicine with video consults

Hospital executives and physicians beware: you soon may be splitting business with your friendly neighborhood drug store. National pharmacy chain Rite Aid is testing out telehealth services at its Detroit locations, with the hope of eventually expanding to its 4,700 stores nationwide.

The drugstore giant has partnered with Optum Health to create NowClinic, powered by American Well's Online Care service. The service allows customers to log on for physician consults at nine of its Detroit stores, company officials say.

Customers can conduct video visits with physicians or nurses through the NowClinic kiosks at Rite Aid stores, or via a website from home, according to Robert Thompson, Rite Aid's executive pharmacy VP. Customers can ask questions, obtain prescriptions, or receive actual care from doctors and health education from nurses, he adds.

It's not the company's first foray into telehealth. Rite Aid initially created the Online Care program to provide patients video access to Rite Aid pharmacists, and debuted the service at the American Diabetes Expo last fall, as well as in a small group of pharmacies in the Pittsburgh area.

This is, however, Rite Aid's first expansion into physician services, one that may have physician groups and hospitals a bit nervous.

Note: This partnership isn't American Well's first rodeo either, as the company recently collaborated with Lewiston, N.Y.-based Mount St. Mary's Hospital Center for a similar consult service. That service brings MSM's own physicians into the American Well doc-on-demand service model, and allows patients to have video consults with MSM practitioners online.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement
- read more details from Pharmaceutical Business Review
- check out Pharmacy Times' coverage

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