Cheryl Pegus, chief medical officer at Walgreen Co., shed light on the drug store chain's multichannel approach to pharmacy and health care services at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Digital Health Summit.

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Walgreens' chief medical officer highlights health tech

January 7th, 2011

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Cheryl Pegus, chief medical officer at Walgreen Co., shed light on the drug store chain's multichannel approach to pharmacy and health care services at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Digital Health Summit.

Pegus, who at the summit moderated the opening panel on the future of digital health, outlined how Walgreens is leveraging technology to make personal health management easier for patients. She discussed the evolution of digital health at the drug chain and how its technology solutions are driving improved access, health outcomes and cost-effective care for acute and chronic conditions.

In particular, Pegus explained how Walgreens has embraced mobile platforms to expand delivery of care to patients. The company now offers mobile applications for iPhone, Android and Blackberry mobile devices, including text alerts for more than 1 million subscribers and a function that allows patients to scan the bar code of their prescription to send in refills. Patients also can access on the go for pharmacy and retail purchases, as well as health risk assessments and prescription-related information, she added.

"Access to the right care at the right time is enabled for our consumers and patients by integrating mobile technology into the services we offer patients to help them stay well," Pegus stated at the summit.

Walgreens pharmacies and Take Care health clinics also are utilizing technology to deliver integrated, quality care and simplify and improve the patient experience, according to Pegus. For example, at all of the 350-plus Take Care clinics, patients sign in using electronic kiosks, which help them understand their estimated wait time and avoid manually filling out paperwork.

In addition, data entered into the kiosk prompts the creation of an electronic medical record (EMR), which allows health care providers to more quickly and comprehensively understand a patient's history, she said. Walgreens pharmacists and Take Care providers use an e-communication program to coordinate care with a patient's pharmacy provider and can quickly generate reports to share with a patient's doctor to facilitate coordinated care.

Digital health solutions also are being used by Walgreens to enhance the management of chronic conditions, Pegus said. Through e-prescribing, prescriptions are routed directly to a patient's pharmacy, improving patient safety and convenience by allowing a real-time cross-check for any drug interactions. A Walgreens tool called RxAdvisor, facilitates regular pharmacist consultations with patients about their medication regimen online or face-to-face, she added. And another Walgreens tool, MedMonitor Complete, provides prescription and care management with face-to-face and phone support utilizing a nationwide network of more than 10,000 pharmacies.

"Leveraging our unmatched national footprint and 70,000 affiliated health care providers to provide access to care and help address the challenge of chronic care management are two key areas of strategic focus for Walgreens," Pegus commented. "By using technology to improve the patient experience and coordination of care, we can continue to improve measurable outcomes, adherence and quality, while also providing cost-effective care."

The CES Digital Health Summit spotlights the burgeoning market of consumer-based health and wellness innovations and was attended by thought leaders from the health care and technology sectors, according to Walgreens.