In the latest example of healthcare moving into retail spaces, InTouch Health signed a letter of intent with Rite Aid to bring telehealth to remote locations.
InTouch said it will use its operating system to create virtual care to connect patients to providers.
The companies also plan on offering the services at alternative care sites, including Rite Aid pharmacies.
InTouch Health CEO Joseph DeVivo said his company views virtual care as an opportunity to provide care in convenient locations. DeVivo said the effort will improve patient engagement, care access and care coordination. It can also reduce costs.
The company has had more than 1.97 million network sessions, including more than 1 million virtual care sessions. InTouch Health said it supports more than 2,250 care locations, including top 20 health systems. However, this latest move would expand InTouch Health’s footprint into the retail pharmacy realm.
The proposal comes at the same time as greater expected consolidation in the pharmacy marketplace. CVS Health is hoping to buy Aetna for $69 billion and Cigna is looking to purchase Express Scripts for $67 billion. Both deals are still pending regulatory approval.
A federal court ruling cleared the way for the proposed union of AT&T and Time Warner earlier this year and there have been whispers that the Department of Justice won't oppose the CVS/Aetna deal.
Healthcare M&A remains red hot. Sector deals doubled in the first half of 2018 and the industry ranked third behind only energy and media entertainment in total deal volume.
Compared to that activity, the InTouch Health/Rite Aid partnership is minor. It won’t consolidate the companies and is merely a partnership. However, it’s another small step toward more collaboration if not consolidation.
The InTouch Health/Rite Aid partnership is also the latest move to offer care in more convenient locations and another entry into telehealth. Health systems have been using telemedicine to improve care access, including New York-Presbyterian working with Walgreens to put similar telehealth kiosks in Walgreens and Duane Reade locations.
Meanwhile, CVS has expanded MinuteClinic offerings, particularly with chronic disease programs. The retail chain plans to test a program that targets diabetes patients and hopes to add others for asthma, hypertension, high cholesterol and depression.
CVS is also working with the Veterans Administration to expand care to healthcare services in the Phoenix area. The program allows Phoenix VA Health Care System nurses to refer veterans to MinuteClinics through the Veterans Choice Program.