Telehealth to save costs, expand into specialties
Atul Singh of Walgreens and Amy Clarke of MDLive
Telehealth is expected to grow tenfold, according to Walgreens director of digital health Atul Singh and MDLive VP strategic partnerships Amy Clark who led an Insight Session Monday examining the growth, benefits and future of telehealth and telemedicine. Since 2014, Walgreens and MDLive have collaborated to offer telemedicine visits with MDLive physicians through Walgreens’ mobile app and website.
Singh said that the telehealth market is expected to grow tenfold by 2018 due to large shifts in the healthcare landscape, led by the estimated shortage of primary care physicians that the Department of Health and Human Services estimates will number around 45,000 by 2020. This shortage can lead to a lack of access to care, even by patients with health insurance. And patients with high-deductible plans are looking to save themselves money, as are health systems and payers for whom emergency room and urgent care visits for acute conditions can be costly. To highlight potential savings, Singh pointed to a survey of telemedicine users that found savings of $190,790 per 1,000 visits, based on where they would have gone otherwise.
“You see so many players jumping into this because … the value it brings to our overall health system is just tremendous,” Singh said. “The promise of telemedicine is actually to drive lower costs for the overall healthcare system by approximately $300 billion. If you’ve been thinking about participating in the telemedicine space, … I would strongly urge you to take a serious look at this.”
Currently, telehealth is moving in new directions, with telemedicine companies looking to expand into specialty care. MDLive and Walgreens this year began including behavioral health services in their offerings, and Clark said dermatology is one of the categories that will see telemedicine growth in the coming years. At the same time, elements of telehealth, from remote monitoring data to telemedicine and electronic health records, will become integrated into a single access point.
“I think over the next handful of years, we will see a lot of healthcare technology come through a single point of contact,” Clark said. “Your second opinion services, your price transparency services, your medical information and symptom checker services will all come through a single place … so that patients have better access.”
Opportunities in consumer-driven health care
Jeff Gregori, group VP consumer and shopper analytics at Nielsen
There is significant opportunity across the front end of retail pharmacy to help consumers better manage chronic disease states, said Jeff Gregori, group VP consumer and shopper analytics for Nielsen, during the Monday morning Insight Session on “Consumer-Driven Healthcare” at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Total Store Expo.
“When you look at the state of today’s consumer, it’s really about prevention. There’s just such a hyper-focus on health,” Gregori said. “The reason for retailers to get much more focused on health care [is] the consumer demand is there.” Few non-food sectors have driven growth at retail like health care. Since 2011, healthcare products have represented 22.7% of overall non-food growth with $6.3 billion in increased sales.
And while diabetes is significant — consumers with diabetes buy 35% more OTC products than the average consumer — there are other opportunities helping consumers better manage their chronic conditions that haven’t been fully realized at retail.
Take hypertension, for example. It’s a disease state that impacts as many as 70 million Americans, and patients with hypertension index higher among several OTC categories, including smoking cessation and sleep aids. But it’s not yet a disease state around which many retailers have designed destina-
“It’s a much bigger audience for any disease-state program that you’re going after,” Gregori said. As many as 14% of U.S. households have a diabetes sufferer, Gregori said, compared to 34% with hypertension sufferers. And while hypertension sufferers don’t spend as much in OTC as compared to diabetics, they still spend 17% more on OTCs when compared to the average consumer.
Comorbidities among hypertension sufferers include eye disease, sleeplessness, obesity, acid reflux and joint, neck or back pain.
Hy-Vee honored for politcal action
During the Political Involvement Reception at NACDS Total Store Expo on Saturday evening, Hy-Vee was honored for its engagement in the NACDS Political Action Committee with the Politically Engaged Pharmacy award.
“We present the PEP award to a person — or a company — that’s made a big difference in advancing community pharmacy with policy-makers, so we can do more to serve our customers and patients,” said Richard Ashworth, president of pharmacy and retail operations for Walgreens and chairman of NACDS-PAC, when presenting the award. Ashworth noted that Hy-Vee team members throughout the
company have “stepped up big time” to be engaged participants in NACDS-PAC, and they exemplify that “passionate voices can make a world of difference.”
“Our team at Hy-Vee really has worked hard to make a difference,” said Hy-Vee chairman, CEO and president Randy Edeker when accepting the award. “Together, we’re stronger than we are individually. This is a nice recognition for all of our folks who have done a lot with NACDS-PAC.”
The bipartisan NACDS-PAC supports federal congressional candidates who advance pro-patient and pro-pharmacy policies.
“NACDS makes it a priority to tell pharmacy’s story to lawmakers and to the public,” said Martin Otto, chief merchant and CFO at H-E-B, and chairman of the NACDS board of directors, when welcoming attendees to the event. In addition to describing the importance of electoral engagement, Otto spoke about the success of the NACDS RxImpact grassroots advocacy program.
NACDS also welcomed Nicolle Wallace — New York Times bestselling author, political strategist and former director of White House communications for President George W. Bush — as a guest speaker.