Report: Walgreens places pharmacists in the aisles armed with iPads

'Health guides' part of healthcare innovations chain is implementing

CHICAGO — Walgreens may be on the verge of revolutionizing the role of the pharmacist — the pharmacy operator is placing iPads in the hands of "health guides" across 20 pilot stores in Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday.

The Internet-armed pharmacist is one of the healthcare innovations Walgreens showcased at the TEDMED conference in San Diego last month. Features of those stores include a pharmacist desk area in front of the pharmacy counter to provide greater customer access to the pharmacist; private and semi-private consultation rooms; an open and redesigned layout with expanded fresh food and beauty products, with more accessible shelving and checkout lines; and such technology as Walgreens Web Pickup, which allows customers to order online and pick up at the store and touchscreen kiosks that allow patients to quickly refill prescriptions.

“The concept is meant to create a pharmacy and health care ‘help desk’ where customers get solutions or referrals for their personal health questions,” Colin Watts, Walgreens chief innovation officer, told the Chicago daily.

The report identifies the bigger picture behind the implementation of the health guides. Beyond offering a greater level of personalized service, these guides help crystallize the role of the pharmacist beyond adjudicating prescriptions by increasing potential patient-pharmacist consultations.

A Chicago-based company, M-Healthcoach, won a competition against 24 other companies nationwide to develop the apps for Walgreen’s health guide initiative.

For the full report, click here.

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