bc q&a

To Your (Digital) Health: 5 Questions with Walgreens VP Adam Pellegrini

Posted by Dale Buss on December 19, 2014 04:22 PM

Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS are all headed in the same direction, as the American drugstore chain business is being redefined not only by vast changes in retailing but also by vast changes in healthcare. Their goal: Becoming the brand that consumers turn to as an overall healthcare partner, rather than just a place they stop on their way home to pick up a prescription or a toothbrush.

That's why all three pharmacy retailers have turned their stores into service clinics as well as retail outlets. It's why CVS took a chance this year with a decision to disassociate itself from cigarettes. It's why Rite Aid's RediClinic division is expanding health care delivery in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Seattle, among other places.

And it's why Walgreens has been innovating and investing heavily in a digital health platform that already has advanced the brand a long way toward this objective, including wearable tech and mobile apps.

As Walgreens readies for the retirement of CEO Greg Wasson and for a new global structure under its merger with Europe's Alliance Boots, brandchannel talked with Adam Pellegrini, vice president of digital health, about how its vision for the future of healthcare is well underway.Continue reading...

content strategy

GE Partners With Nas to Release First Documentary for Connected TVs

Posted by Shirley Brady on December 18, 2014 10:44 AM

GE is flexing its content muscles in a new direction, by releasing a documentary and video package aimed at youths, hip hop fans and science buffs.

The company is releasing its first feature film—a breakdancing documentary—for streaming platforms, connected TVs and mobile devices.

Shake the Dust, a documentary executive-produced by rapper Nasir "Nas" Jones, will debut on Christmas Eve in a partnership between GE and music video platform Vevo.Continue reading...

health matters

Walgreens Promotes Digital Health With Wearable Tech, Virtual Doctor Visits

Posted by Dale Buss on December 9, 2014 02:02 PM

Walgreens is trying to lead retailers with its digitized approach to healthcare. America's biggest drugstore chain's strategy now includes a branded wearable fitness monitor, in-store augmented reality product locators and a new telehealth partnership to provide around-the-clock access to physicians via its mobile app.

CVS may have stolen a march on the industry competition in the realm of anti-smoking, but Walgreens has become a trailblazer in setting up a systematic network of apps and other digital itouchpoints to give customers unprecedented control over their health and wellness information, whether they're in or outside the store.

"We're absolutely focused on this area of omnichannel digital health," Adam Pellegrini, vice president of digital health for the Chicago-based chain, recently told a recent conference. "We're working every day on new ideas."Continue reading...

tech innovation

Intel Upgrades—and Gives Away—Stephen Hawking's Speech Processor

Posted by Shirley Brady on December 4, 2014 03:03 PM

"Intel has been supporting me for... years, allowing me to do what I love every day."

As announced this week and detailed in Wired's January issue, the tech leader has upgraded Stephen Hawking's speech system to double the speed of the predictive typing technology that enables him to communicate—and will release it as a free open-source platform in January with the hope that it can can be adapted to help others with restrictive medical conditions and disabilities.

The hashtag: #KeepHawkingTalking.Continue reading...

tech innovation

IBM Watson Brings Big Brain to DNA-Based Health App for Consumers

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 13, 2014 01:28 PM

IBM expects the bioinformatics market will grow to $12.86 billion by 2020, and its super-computer Watson is the brand's ambassador-at-large, set to secure its place—and future—in banking, education, insurance, retail and healthcare, the focus of Big Blue's big news today. 

Watson, which is being actively commercialized by IBM as a B2B offering for others' apps and software, is at the heart of a major announcement that could mean the end of the annual doctor's visit.

A joint effort by IBM and Pathway Genomics will combine Pathway's personal DNA sequencing and biometric data with Watson's human language analysis and research capabilities to track and diagnose your health, and deliver it all through an app that should be available to consumers in mid-2015. Continue reading...

health matters

A League of Your Own: Kobo Founder's Health App Syncs Wearable Tech Data

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 13, 2014 11:23 AM

When U.S.-based Borders Books introduced the Kobo e-reader back in 2010, it was seen as a potential “Kindle Killer.” Borders, alas, folded the following year, but Kobo kept quietly rolling along.

Now the man who created Kobo, Michael Serbinis, is introducing a new product that he hopes will excite consumers and the medical community alike: A healthcare app and personal wellness portal called League. Having raised $4 million Canadian in seed money, League is preparing to launch early next year, according to a press release.

League can be accessed via a website and iOS and Android mobile apps, which will monitor information provided by wearable technology devices, such as FitBit's tracking of steps taken, all controlled by the user and open, if desired, to healthcare providers too. Continue reading...

brand extensions

What's Up, Doc? Google Tests Virtual Medical Consultations

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 13, 2014 03:03 PM

Google has found a way into nearly every part of consumers' lives. Now another can be added which gives a whole new meaning to Google Docs: medical advice.

The world's second most valuable brand is testing a feature on a limited basis that would allow US consumers to talk to a doctor in a real-time online video chat about a medical issue.

The service was discovered by Massachusetts-based web developer Jason Houle, who was offered the option to “talk with a doctor now” in a video chat after he Googled “knee pain” on his Android device.

Houle posted his exchange on Reddit on Friday, which immediately inspired others to search for “knee pain” on their mobile devices to see if they were offered similar help.

Part of Google's general advice service, Helpouts, it appears to be free to those who are offered it, but it may carry a fee down the road, as other Helpouts affiliates currently charge for their services.

According to The Guardian's report on Houle's experience, residents of Massachusetts and California currently have access to the virtual healthcare consulations, while a Google Helpouts search shows free medical advice also currently available to to clients of One Medical Group in Illinois.Continue reading...

retail

Walmart Pitches Healthcare to Customers While Trimming Benefits for Employees

Posted by Dale Buss on October 7, 2014 05:27 PM

When it comes to healthcare, Walmart giveth to its customers—and taketh away from its employees.

The retailing giant announced Tuesday that it plans to eliminate health insurance coverage for its part-time US employees who work less than 30 hours a week, while raising insurance premiums across the board for all employees.

At the same time, Walmart said that it plans to offer consumers one-stop shopping, in-store and online, for healthcare insurance.

Neither move is particularly surprising for America's largest private employer.Continue reading...

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