Drug store chain Rite Aid Corporation is adding telehealth to its in-store healthcare services.
In partnership with telehealth company InTouch Health, Rite Aid will begin offering a virtual service that connects customers with clinicians via its RediClinic Express kiosks located in retail stores.
The RediClinic Express kiosks deliver a virtual health assessment with integrated medical devices and point-of-care testing. Customers will be able to speak with RediClinic clinicians directly via a secure, two-way high-definition audio/video connection, the company said.
“Virtual care is another opportunity for Rite Aid to offer patients the convenience of faster service and value-based healthcare,” Jocelyn Konrad, EVP, pharmacy and retail operations, Rite Aid, said in a statement. “We are continually looking for ways to serve our patients differently by utilizing technology and are excited to launch virtual care via our initial RediClinic Express kiosks and look forward to improving healthcare outcomes of our customers in those communities.”
The move to offer telehealth visits as part of in-store healthcare services comes as Rite Aid's drug store competitors also are building out digital healthcare services. Working with Microsoft, pharmacy and retail giant Walgreens plans to pilot up to 12 store-in-store "digital health corners" to sell certain healthcare-related hardware and devices. Walgreens also teamed up with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital to put telemedicine kiosks in some New York City stores.
CVS also plans to transform 1,500 of its retail locations into HealthHUBS where 20% of the store is dedicated to health services including new product categories, digital tools and on-demand health kiosks, trusted advice and personalized care.
Rite Aid operates 2,466 stores in 18 states as well as 25 RediClinic locations, which are Rite Aid's in-store clinics. Since opening its first in-store clinic in 2005, RediClinic has successfully treated more than 3.2 million patients, according to the company.
Medical visits in a RediClinic Express, with the help of trained medical assistants, utilize the same diagnostic equipment used during face-to-face examinations, according to the company. The technology provides an interactive patient experience where patients are able to see exactly what the clinician is viewing, utilizing diagnostic equipment and point-of-care testing, helping to increase understanding and build trust between the patient and provider, Rite Aid officials said.
After check-in, patients meet with a clinical assistant in private kiosk where their vital signs are taken and they are asked to fill out a medical questionnaire. A clinician then reviews the patient's intake form and medical history from a remote location and initiates the virtual care visit.
During the virtual care visit, the clinician may diagnose the patient and determine the appropriate course of treatment following clinical care guidelines. If patients require a prescription or follow-up care, the clinician will submit the prescription to the patient's pharmacy of choice and, if needed, recommend that the patient visit an appropriate healthcare provider, according to the company.