Harry Leider keynote mHealth Summit

I had a chance to catch up with Harry Leider, MD, the Chief Medical Officer of Walgreens at the 2014 mHealth Summit in Washington DC. He has just given a great keynote where he talked about the value of mHealth for the different stakeholders in healthcare.

Harry said there are 3 stakeholders that could potentially derive value from mHealth:

  • Consumers
  • Providers, health systems, doctors
  • Payer (health plans and government payers and employers)


Value for health plans and employers

When it comes to health plans or employers, he continued, they are usually looking for short-term medical savings. They want to know whether the technology will actually keep people out of the hospitals and ERs because that is where the big dollars are spent. Good examples are digital tools, such as electronic scales people with heart failure. These have been shown to keep people out of the hospital and save money. They may also be interested in mHealth apps and tools that provide care at a lower cost than usual care, for example, telemedicine. Otherwise, they are not that interested in mHealth typically.


 Value for providers

To providers (docs and integrated delivery systems), generally, it is hard to get doctors and hospitals to spend money on technology. They have just spent billions of dollars on EMRs for meaningful use. And even though there is value-based purchasing for ACOs, they are still in a fee-for-service model. If it produces more patient visits, perhaps.


Value for consumers

For consumers, Harry divided the mHealth offerings into 2 camps. First of all, Wellness and Fitness apps. He said there is evidence from a recent PWC report that people really don’t want to spend much for these apps/tools. Only 1/3 of those surveyed would be willing to pay $100; more telling is that only 2/3 said they would want the device even if is given away free!

On the other hand, he said, if developers come up with a tool that meets a compelling need, then, he thinks that “consumers will pay much more for those types of things.”


Walgreen’s: The Health Store

Towards the end of the interview, we turned our attention to Walgreens as a delivery system. From quick care clinics in the stores to filling scripts and buying health-related supplies, the basic setup of Walgreens is designed for a convenient consumer experience. Add in Walgreen’s recent partnership with MDLive to provide virtual visits via mobile and another partnership with WebMD to provide, amongst other things, virtual wellness coaching programs. Add in Walgreens’ Balance Rewards program that gives consumers points for good health behaviors (they can be redeemed at Walgreens! or online), and you are starting to see a Walgreens that is more than the pharmacy and consumer goods retail store that we have all known for years. In fact, I think it is fair to say this is NOT your Mother’s Walgreens, rather is a rapidly evolving consumer-oriented healthcare ecosystem.



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