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Rite Aid's new partnership will keep pharmacist, patient 'well' connected

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT This is a fine example of how pharmacists can be both convenient and accessible and ready to answer questions about disease states and medicines, and all at the click of a mouse, or smartphone touch pad, as the case may be.

(THE NEWS: Rite Aid enters partnership with American Well. For the full story, click here)

Because this also is a fine example of how today’s pharmacist can reside in the hip pocket of their patients. Indeed, the greatest appeal for Rite aid may be against capturing that tech-savvy patient interested in pursuing a healthier iLife at that patient’s convenience. Because with this tool, that mobile smart-phone user can enjoy a little instant gratification, for example, by consulting with a pharmacist wherever they may be.

It’s also a tool Rite Aid patients can access when they’re actually at the shelf and ready to make a purchase decision. By accessing the Online Care service using the latest iPhone or Droid gadget, they can potentially ask the pharmacist questions like what drug-drug interactions exist between their possible Rx regimens and over-the-counter remedies? Or given their conditions and medicine history, should they be concerned about a particular symptom or side effect, and which OTC option to relieve that symptom would be the best option for them?

And it’s already a proven service. For many of American Well’s customers — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Hawaii, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, OptumHealth (a business of UnitedHealth Group) and TriWest Healthcare Alliance — patients have been able to consult with a physician in real time since 2006. Rite Aid marks the first retail pharmacy to make this available to their patients, for now on a test basis.

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