Rite Aid Adds Doc in a Box Technology to More Stores

Discussion
Mar 05, 2013

Like competitors CVS (MinuteClinic) and Walgreens (Take Care Health Systems), Rite Aid sees an opportunity in providing basic medical care in stores to its customers. Unlike its two larger rivals, which operate in-store clinics staffed by nurse practitioners, Rite Aid has chosen to go the virtual route with online clinics that allow customers to meet privately via video, chat or phone.

The drugstore chain first began working with NowClinic in September 2011, operating clinics in nine of its Detroit-area stores. Last week it announced it was opening an additional 58 NowClinics in the Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh markets.

"Given the rapidly changing healthcare landscape, we believe that telehealth services, such as our NowClinic Online Care service, will play an extremely important role in healthcare of the future," said Robert Thompson, executive vice president of pharmacy at Rite Aid, in a statement.

"Rite Aid’s NowClinic Online Care services provide customers with convenient, affordable and efficient access to medical care, whenever and wherever they need it. We are excited to bring NowClinic Online Care services to our customers in these markets as part of our continued mission to help them live healthier, happier lives."

The drugstore chain’s customers can also get help wherever they can get to a computer by going to www.myNowClinic.com/RiteAid. Speaking with a nurse is complimentary while a consultation with a doctor costs $45 for 10 minutes. One drawback to NowClinic is that the service does not submit bills to insurance companies for payment.

Do you think large numbers of consumers will feel comfortable speaking with health professionals online instead of in-person? Given the options of the competing in-store clinics, do you think most consumers will choose Rite Aid or the alternatives offered by CVS and Walgreens?

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9 Comments on "Rite Aid Adds Doc in a Box Technology to More Stores"


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Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

At first, many consumers will be uncomfortable speaking with health professionals online, but given time and the growth of these programs, people will adapt, provided that the quality of advice/care meets their expectations. Being able to access a professional online, at any time adds to the attractiveness, and this will appeal to Millennials who place significantly less value on in-person contact. These clinics aren’t for everyone, but enough of the population may seek them out to make them profitable.

David Zahn
Guest
9 years 2 months ago
I write this as someone who has been accused of being a “germ-phobe”—so read it with that understanding. I think this is terrific. I always try to hold my breath and avoid touching ANYTHING when I go anywhere near where sick people congregate. Being able to segregate the ill from the healthy works for me. The idea of sick people milling about a store while they wait to be seen by a healthcare professional has always caused me concern as a healthy person shopping. Of course, when I do not know that someone is sick (an airplane or other public location), I cannot be as skittish about it. However, this idea WOULD lead me to consider switching from an “in-store clinic” retailer to this one. If I felt “reasonably certain” my health was less at risk shopping in this store, it would score points for me. In terms of medical care differences, I cannot speak to it (how essential is it to be in the same room to receive quality care?). In terms of accessing… Read more »
Matthew Keylock
Guest
Matthew Keylock
9 years 2 months ago

Given the length of the trial and Rite Aid’s choice to now expand, it seems reasonable to believe they have found sufficient consumer engagement in this.

I suspect that in healthcare there are likely situations where face-to-face is better and others where digital or virtual is better.

Although this will undoubtedly differ by individual and shift over time, this could create a great set of opportunities for Rite Aid. The specific health missions they are better able to serve may result in a different balance of product sales in store and allow them to further differentiate their offer.

It will be interesting to see what happens…

Lee Peterson
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

So, this is basically a place to get prescriptions? Fill in the blanks and boom! Oxycontin! Not sure what other ‘advice’ the computer would dole out?

To me, it’s bad enough talking to doctors now who will, after a 15 minute conversation, prescribe a drug to ‘see if this’ll work’ —let alone having a machine do it. Unless, of course, you’re a Drugstore Cowboy.

Pretty dehumanizing. You’d hope that Rite Aid tested this first, or, maybe they know something us retailers don’t.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

I echo Max’s comments. The walk-in clinics operated by Rite Aid’s competition seem to be successful. The times I have had to use them I have come away satisfied with the treatment received. I am a little surprised Rite Aid did not choose this route.

It is not customary for Rite Aid to be the leader; but maybe this is that instance. This will not be popular with the older generation who are less than computer savvy. But over time, may gain a degree of acceptance with them.

Tina Lahti
Guest
Tina Lahti
9 years 2 months ago

They will eventually choose online care from home. I think that many consumers already think that medical professionals are as much a barrier to as they are a provider of health care products and services. Consumers suspect that that the only reason doctors insist on office visits for obvious ailments is so that a fee can be collected. Online care will offer a lower fee and less inconvenience for the patient.

W. Frank Dell II, CMC
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

I think video is the only way to go for this application. In an ideal world, the doctor can pull up a patient record or at least a starting survey to work with. The ability to take a patient temperature and blood pressure is important as well. In-store should help with the pre-work and provide a sound-proof booth for the doctor conference. Prescriptions can be e-mailed to the pharmacy for filling. This concept has potential, but without video I think there will be little use.

Kai Clarke
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

No. This is a great idea for people who are very comfortable with technology, but this leaves the majority of the elderly (who are not as comfortable with technology) uncomfortable. Add to this the inability to have the clinic or doctor file your insurance claim and you have a tremendous reason not to use this service.

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
9 years 2 months ago

It may become really popular if it is the fastest way to get medical advice for “the little things that pain you.”

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