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New site for diagnosing, treating UTIs speaks to rise in telehealth-type services

BY Antoinette Alexander

TreatMyUTI.com is an online service founded by a group of physicians that offers online access to physician diagnosis and treatment of uncomplicated urinary tract infections with no office visit, exam or lab test required.
 
This is important because it speaks to a much larger trend within health care, and that’s the continued rise of telehealth-type services as patients and providers increasingly battle a crisis of access and affordability of health care.
 
As reported by Drug Store News, telehealth is expected to experience a sharp rise in the number of patients, according a report by health market research firm IHS, which projects that telehealth will reach 1.8 million patients around the world by 2017.
 
It also is important to note that Washington has taken notice. For example, a new bill, H.R. 6719, the Telehealth Promotion Act of 2012, introduced in the House by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., would establish that "no [medical] benefit covered shall be excluded solely because it is furnished via a telecommunications system," allowing greater access to telemedicine services through Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Tricare, Department of Veterans Affairs and federal employee health plans.

More recently, legislation to expand the use of telehealth technology under Medicare to reduce hospital re-admissions in rural and underserved communities has been re-introduced by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
 
Now factor in the physician shortage. As its stands, the physician shortage is at about 10,000 and growing, and is expected to reach almost 30,000 by 2015, and more than 65,000 by 2025. And the national average wait times for a face-to-face appointment with a physician tops 20 days.
 
Clearly, there’s a need for greater access to healthcare services. Time will tell just how much traction a service like TreatMyUTI.com will actually get, but what is important is that healthcare professionals, like those that founded the site, continue to think out of the box and look for innovative ways to meet the healthcare needs of Americans.

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Change the channel: More consumers opt for mobile, online shopping

BY Alaric DeArment

Google is offering a service called Google Shopping Express, which would offer same-day delivery from brick-and-mortar stores in the San Francisco Bay Area to the Internet giant’s employees. Target and several other retailers have been named as possible partners.

With Google now looking to compete with Amazon — not to mention Target’s growing attention to online and mobile commerce — a growing body of consumer studies and industry trends shows that the most important emerging consumer demographic isn’t men, women, old people or young people; it’s multichannel consumers.

And it’s not just big, national and international chains either. Last Tuesday, Raley’s announced that it had partnered with Dunnhumby to create an online, social-networking component to its Something Extra loyalty program.

Meanwhile, one survey after another has shown that "going to a store" means, for a growing number of consumers, getting on the computer or pulling out the smartphone. Several recent Patient View surveys of AccentHealth viewers indicate that retailer apps will see increased use as consumers show more interest in tools such as live expert chatting, bar code scanning and prescription regimen management, especially now that 49% of surveyed smart-device users now have a retail app. Another AccentHealth survey found 29% of consumers report doing most shopping online.

Another survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of CouponCabin and released Wednesday, found that nearly three-quarters of people who work from home shop online, along with more than half who work out of an office.

Many retailers get the hint already. Target announced March 15 the purchase of online kitchen supply retailers Cooking.com and CHEFS Catalog, as well as sponsoring a competition with Fast Company magazine to develop a new mobile experience for the retailer at the recent SXSW conference. At the same conference, Walgreens won an "Appy" award for the Best Retail Mobile App, which now includes new functions, such as the ability to print from Instagram and access to a health reference encyclopedia. Ahold USA, the American division of Dutch supermarket operator Royal Ahold, is planning to expand its Peapod online grocery service.

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American Stores founder Sam Skaggs dies at 89

BY Michael Johnsen

SALT LAKE CITY — American Stores founder Sam Skaggs died of natural causes at his home Thursday, according to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune. He was 89 years old. 

Retail pharmacy was the family business. Skaggs was the grandson of Safeway founder Marion Skaggs. And his father, Leonard Skaggs, operated PayLess Drug Stores since 1939. 

A video tribute to Skaggs produced by Tuff Cookie Productions is available here

In 1965, Sam Skaggs incorporated the PayLess business as Skaggs Drug Centers and went public. In 1979, Skaggs took over American Stores in Philadelphia.

Before his retirement in 1995, Skaggs operated one of the world’s largest food companies with more than 1,700 locations across 26 states.

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