Walgreen’s Rite Aid purchase could bring new digital health partners
Walgreens Boots Alliance will acquire Rite Aid for $9 a share, or a total of $9.4 billion, the companies announced yesterday. The merger represents a major consolidation in the drug store sector in the United States — according to the Wall Street Journal, the combined marketshare of Walgreens and Rite Aid will be 46.5 percent compared to 30 percent from CVS, Walgreen’s closest rival.
So what might Rite Aid bring to the table? In some areas, it merely matches Walgreens feature for feature. For instance, Rite Aid launched its mobile app for prescription refills in 2012, two years after Walgreens. It beat Walgreens to the punch with telemedicine integration, working with Optum to connect its customers with Optum nurses and other providers via Optum’s videochat-enabled NowClinic service, powered by American Well. But that service has now been discontinued.
But Rite Aid does have two digital health partnerships that Walgreens doesn’t have. For one, health kiosk company higi signed an agreement last year to distribute more than 4,000 kiosks to Rite Aid stores. At the kiosks, users can take their vital signs, including blood pressure, height, and weight. Users can create an account which gamifies their vitals reading it, converting it to a single “HigiScore” that represents the user’s overall wellness (including vitals signs as well as “lifestyle” and “community” scores drawn from device integrations and social media), and “HigiWatts,” which are points users get for visiting kiosks regularly. Higi also has a mobile app available to facilitate further engagement with the platform. Notably, higi also works with Walgreens competitor CVS.