As chatter builds around the topic of mobile health, Walgreens is giving the industry a major boost in hopes of facilitating the widespread adoption of health care on the smartphone.
Mobile health, known as mhealth, is seen by some experts as the future of health care, giving individuals more control over and access to their health care. Walgreens has announced plans to partner with WebMD to take an early lead in the mhealth industry this year, reports say, as the companies work to strengthen loyalty integrations in the technology.
Walgreens and WebMD are set to launch Your Digital Health Advisor, a personal wellness smartphone app that integrates Walgreens Balance Rewards into the program. The program offers behavior tracking and supports third-party data from devices like wireless scales and glucometers. Along with Walgreens' Balance Rewards incentives, the app will offer benefits to users who achieve certain health goals.
Their joint venture boosts exposure of Walgreens’ rewards program to more consumers, while WebMD benefits from the expansive client base of the pharmaceutical firm. But their partnership could also become a catalyst for the mobile health industry, which is still in its infancy. Experts say implementing a popular rewards program into a mobile health product like Your Digital Health Advisor is a significant step towards making the technology mainstream.
Walgreens has been quick to adopt mobile services; its Balance Rewards program is one of the top mobile loyalty apps today, and the company struck a partnership with Apple Pay that led to a doubling of in-store NFC payments at the pharmacy chain.
WebMD said it is taking similar steps to embrace new mobile innovations. “Transformational changes are happening across the health and wellness landscape and causing a consumerization of health care,” a WebMD spokesperson said. “These changes, driven by consumers’ increasing financial responsibility for their care and the advent of digital health technologies, are fundamentally changing the relationships consumers have with health care professionals, employers, even their local pharmacies and retailers.”