Walgreen Co. is working with startup MDLive to offer video visits through the retail pharmacy chain's mobile app.
The partnership with MDLive has the potential to dramatically expand Walgreens' telehealth platform on mobile devices. Users of the Walgreen's mobile app have been able to chat with pharmacy staff for a couple of years. As of Monday, users in California and Michigan can consult with physicians about a variety of acute conditions. Walgreen Co. plans to expand the capability to other states.
MDLive, formed in 2009, charges $49 for video visits with physicians. The company's investors include Heritage Group—a venture capital fund created by several large healthcare players, such as Community Health Systems, Tenet Healthcare Corp., and Trinity Health—as well as two individual health systems: Norfolk, Va.-based Sentara Healthcare and Sacramento Calif.-based Sutter Health. It recently added former Apple CEO John Sculley to its board of directors.
Retailers, including Walgreen competitors CVS and Target, have aggressively moved into healthcare with in-store clinics and a growing number and variety of clinical affiliations with health systems. And healthcare providers in general are seeing increased use of virtual visits. Last week a Kaiser Permanente executive said that several of the systems' regions are conducting more than half of their visits remotely.
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