October 6th, 2011
Posted by Caroline Popper, M.D., M.P.H.
There’s a definite romance developing between pharmacy outlets and medical organizations when it comes to consumer-driven opportunities in health care delivery. We’ve continued to watch Medco’s foray into genetic testing, which lingers on with all of the predictability of a clumsy first date. Then last May came the relationship between Johns Hopkins Medicine and Walgreens. And recently, we learn of Rite Aid’s Partnership with OptumHealth to provide straight-to-the-doctor online video consultations at its Detroit locations.
Of all of these relationships parading around the consumer dance floor, it may be the Rite Aid deal that makes a real impact, especially on how medical institutions compete in the marketplace. Rite Aid intends to use telemedicine—which is not a new concept but one whose technology has certainly come of age—to have consumers interact in real-time with physicians and nurses. This brings up a host of questions concerning how primary care physicians may need to re-examine future business models. And what about ERs and walk-in clinics? Will this be the final test whereby online services trump the hassle of a noisy waiting room?
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