Walgreens Puts ‘Health Guides’ to Work with iPads

Discussion
Nov 04, 2011
George Anderson

Retailers are going a little iPad crazy (and we’re not talking about selling the tablet devices). Recent reports have a wide variety of retailers, including Lowe’s, Neiman Marcus and Sears, equipping sales associates with iPads to help improve performance in stores. The most recent chain to test the use of iPads in stores is Walgreens.

The drugstore chain, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report, has created a new full-time health guide position in 16 stores in Chicagoland.

"The concept is meant to create a pharmacy and health care ‘help desk’ where customers get solutions or referrals for their personal health questions," Colin Watts, Walgreens’ chief innovation officer, told the Sun-Times.

Health guides are deployed in stores to help answer customers’ questions and free up time for pharmacists to engage in more one-on-one consultations with people in stores.

According to the Sun-Times, Walgreens and other pharmacies are lobbying Congress for bigger reimbursements on insurance. To receive them, it will need to prove pharmacists are engaged in the medical care of its customers.

Discussion Questions: How big of an effect will the use of full-time health guides using iPads have on the customer experience in Walgreens? What do you see as the potential for tablets to reshape drugstore retail operations?

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4 Comments on "Walgreens Puts ‘Health Guides’ to Work with iPads"


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David Biernbaum
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

The concept of using iPads in the stores for employees to become more helpful, is very purposeful and progressive, only to the extent that employees are well trained to use the resource and the iPad itself, effectively, and above all, efficiently.

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
9 years 6 months ago

The use of technology in the stores is certainly a positive. And giving credit where credit is due, Walgreens is not the leader here; Rite Aid started this initiative first. But all that being said, the question is not about the technology, but about the people implementing the technology. If you give the iPad to a $9.00/hr. employee who has no training in health-care advice, what good is it?

The real story should not be about the technology that the health guides will be using, but the training and qualifications that are behind the execution and roll-out of the health guides. If Walgreens and other chains can prove that these folks are truly qualified, and will be able to help guide consumers on their purchases to ultimately solve health problems and provide preventative needs, we will all think this in-store role extremely valuable.

Harris Loeser
Guest
Harris Loeser
9 years 6 months ago

The current tablets in retail are going to be a fleeting and educational phenomenon. Check out Apple Siri voice recognition with artificial intelligence. Tablet or smartphone, retail staff and tons of customers are going to be talking with their technology within 24 months in your stores.

Ronnie Perchik
Guest
Ronnie Perchik
9 years 6 months ago

Digital technologies and nontraditional marketing like social media allow marketers to communicate directly with their consumers. Healthcare is a perfect place to implement this. People walk into drugstores with all kinds of questions. And when was the last time you spoke to someone on the floor, as opposed to the standard of having to wait in line for a pharmacist?

With mobile tablets, consumers can interact with on the floor associates, who have all of the necessary information to quell concerns. Walgreens has the opportunity to create an environment of support and relief for their customers.

Nontraditional marketing tactics should be about improving the customer experience, with market research and brand benefit as a byproduct. It must be implemented, though, in the right way to ensure brands reach this goal. Hiring a partner agency is one way to combat this.

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