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Rite Aid, Homeward to improve care access for seniors in rural areas

Beginning this summer, Homeward and Rite Aid will partner to connect underserved seniors with providers and other clinical services.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor

Rite Aid is poised to provide access to comprehensive care for seniors living in rural areas across the United States, thanks to a partnership with Homeward.

Beginning this summer, Homeward and the retailer will partner to connect underserved seniors with providers and other clinical services. Rite Aid pharmacists will be able to introduce Medicare-eligible customers to Homeward's clinical services, including annual wellness visits, screenings and risk assessments.

"Rite Aid is deeply committed to improving the lives of our customers with expanded pharmacy and healthcare services in underserved rural communities," said Rite Aid president and CEO Heyward Donigan. "We are proud to support the innovative work that Homeward is doing to introduce a new, hybrid care model that will play a critical role in our customers' health journeys."

[Read more: 2020 Pharmacy Innovator of the Year: Rite Aid’s RxEvolutionary new approach

In addition, Rite Aid will host Homeward's mobile care units at select rural Michigan locations to provide care and services to underserved communities with the goal of expanding to additional markets nationwide.

"As we rearchitect health and care for rural Americans, we must consider the specific needs of millions living in these communities and so-called healthcare deserts. In these areas, we can't assume that 'if you build it, they will come.' Instead, we're creating convenient opportunities for care within the daily lives and routines of rural Americans," said Jennifer Schneider, CEO of Homeward. "Rite Aid is a highly recognized and trusted pharmacy services company with rural locations that serve many thousands of people every day. Through our partnership, we'll be able to connect individuals to our services as we improve access to critical, front-line services in these communities."

To date, much of the innovation in health care has been applied only to urban populations, leaving rural populations saddled with widespread hospital closures and physician shortages, both of which exacerbate health disparities, significantly poorer clinical outcomes and higher total costs. To address these significant gaps, Homeward announced plans to provide high-quality, accessible care for the 60 million Americans living in rural communities using a unique hybrid model that is designed to meet their distinctive needs, the company said. 

[Read more: Rite Aid reports Q4, full-year results]

Similarly, Rite Aid is focused on improving health care in underserved rural communities. "Our pharmacists have trusted relationships with millions of seniors built on years of frequent interactions and counseling in regards to medication and whole health needs. By partnering with Homeward, we will use our scale and suite of services to help close gaps in care and improve medication adherence," Donigan said. "Being part of the hybrid model that Homeward is building is an exciting opportunity to truly improve the health and wellness of our rural communities."

Homeward deploys an integrated care model that combines mobile, community-based care with centralized clinical oversight and ongoing care management. Homeward providers see members both in community-based, mobile clinics and in members' homes, as preferred. Homeward care teams conduct physical exams, perform basic diagnostic tests and, when needed, refer members to regional health systems and specialists if more complicated diagnostics are required. Homeward's technology-enabled care model also includes virtual visits and in-home, cellular-based remote monitoring that keeps patients connected to their multidisciplinary care team.

Lastly, the company will provide in-network services, including primary care and specialty care beginning with cardiology, in Q3 2022 for individuals covered by Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. Homeward will set aside the fee-for-service model — which defaults to in-clinic care settings and limits the ability to leverage new, innovative technology and services — in favor of a value-based, total capitation model, the company said

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