Walgreens is continuing its aggressive mHealth push by launching yet another pilot program to allow customers to schedule appointment to its clinics directly from their smartphones.
The pilot program was launched at clinics in Denver and Chicago as a start, and to use the new scheduling service patients must first download the free iTriage app for iPhones and Android devices. The partnership with iTriage is key, as it signifies how important this app has become in the mHealth space. In its first three years since launch, for example, iTriage has seen more than 6 million downloads.
The pilot is part of Walgreen’s Take Care Health Systems, which operates the second-largest retail clinic chain in the U.S. with 355 locations. It began offering Online appointment scheduling back in January, and the push to mobile is the next logical step is allowing patients to take more control over how they engage with Take Care clinics. “With iTriage, patients can quickly see whether they can get an appointment at a particular location, or, if that location is booked, check a different location,” said Heather Helle, divisional vice president of Walgreens’ Consumer Solutions, in an interview with InformationWeek. “It brings simplicity, ease of access, and a new level of convenience for patients.”
According to Helle, Take Care is the first retail clinical operation to offer scheduling functionality for mobile phones, though she notes that competitors’ clinics are also listed in the iTriage directory. “Today people are managing everything online–whether it be their finances or their social life,” Helle noted. “Now, with this iTriage application, they have the ability to manage their personal healthcare from wherever they may be.”
The pilot is another is a long line of mobile initiatives from Walgreens, which already lets patients refill prescriptions online by using their smartphones to swipe the bar code on their pill bottles, for example. Walgreens also texts customers when it’s time for a refill, and the iTriage app reminds them when it’s time to take a pill.