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Walgreens' new mobile platform refreshes on-demand skincare, telehealth resources

Walgreens is spotlighting its skincare services through a new platform available on its mobile site and application, enabling visitors to virtually connect with on-call dermatologists, access information about common conditions and receive product recommendations through live chats with pharmacy staff.

The pharmacy chain is attempting to make dermatology resources more readily available for the average on-the-go consumer by rolling out its skincare platform within the Walgreens mobile app and site. Consumers can now use the DermatologistOnCall service at any time, underscoring the opportunity for drugstore chains to innovate within the telehealth sector.

?Retailers in general should take every opportunity to push their audience engagement into mobile, and even more so with utility-focused campaigns like this,? said James McNally, director of digital strategy at TDT NY. ?Not only does mobile help Walgreens ostensibly to serve a real consumer need for increased access to dermatological care, it's shifting the engagement to a strategically relevant platform, where customer profiles can be built, and leveraged for hyper-personalized targeting.?

On-the-go dermatology
According to an IBISWorld Industry Report, consumers wait an average time of 29 days to see a dermatologist. Patients with time-sensitive problems may require earlier treatment, a notion that prompted Walgreens to make the DermatologistOnCall service accessible within its mobile app and on its desktop and mobile sites.

The skincare answers platform, which can be visited at by non-app users, includes informational content in addition to the teledermatology service. Iagnosis? DermatologistOnCall solution lets users book online consultations with board-certified doctors.

Walgreens sees more than two million individuals access its digital channels each day, indicating that its mobile app and site are the best-suited hosting mediums for skincare resources.

The new platform offers immediate access to online dermatology appointment scheduling and consultations, enabling patients to virtually receive diagnoses and customized treatment suggestions for their conditions.

These plans are typically formulated within 24 hours of the patient submitting his or her online visit.

Consumers leveraging this service can create an online profile and upload personal photos of their skin conditions to receive the most optimal care from a dermatologist licensed in their state.

Each online consultation costs $59.

Additionally, Walgreens? skincare platform can be used to receive information regarding common skin conditions, such as eczema and acne, from its health content partner, WebMD.

Walgreens and WebMD teamed up to innovate within the mhealth sector last year via a digital wellness program that incorporated Walgreens Balance Rewards (see story).

Live chat options
Walgreens? skin care platform also encompasses a live chat solution, which allows consumers to ask pharmacy staff various questions about basic skin conditions and receive product recommendations in return.

For example, an individual wanting more information on the best face cleansers for acne-prone skin can visit the mobile platform or Walgreens? mobile app to chat with a pharmacy associate and ask him or her for recommendations.

This solution may culminate in driving more sales on Walgreens? digital channels while offering consumers more convenience and resources to fulfill their healthcare needs.

The skincare platform also showcases recommended products alongside informational articles on skin conditions. A visitor reading a piece regarding acne treatments may spot recommended items, such as Cetaphil?s gentle skin cleanser and Neutrogena?s on-the-spot acne cream, featured below the content.

The pharmacy live chat is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Walgreens has been placing a growing focus on its digital platforms in recent months, strengthening the ties between telehealth options and drugstore chains.

Earlier this summer, Walgreens made clipping coupons much easier by allowing paperless coupons to be used for online purchases and displaying them on product pages within its application (see story).

A Walgreens executive at the Mcommerce Summit: State of Mobile Commerce 2016 also emphasized the importance of omnichannel experiences, as customers who interact with the retailer through multiple touch points are up to six times more valuable than those who just visit bricks-and-mortar locations (see story).

?These programs (Web- or mobile-based pseudo-diagnosis tools created by brands) don't necessarily have a stellar track record in terms of longevity or real engagement, but ultimately it comes down to how much value Walgreens is providing in terms of personalized help and relevant content,? Mr. McNally said.

?There is definitely an opportunity to ramp up engagement with a certain subset of the audience, then convert them to mobile commerce customers or in-store visits.?