Initiative Aims To Introduce Consumers To Telehealth During Cold And Flu Season
Consumers who purchase medications for coughs and colds will receive coupons for a free virtual care visit with a physician, under a new program being launched by Walmart, health and hygiene company RB, and Doctor on Demand.
The telehealth initiative seeks to introduce more consumers to virtual care by removing cost barriers and providing convenient access to physicians during the upcoming cold-and-flu season.
Under the initiative, Walmart customers who purchase Mucinex, Delsym, Airborne, or Digestive Advantage will receive a coupon for a no-cost telehealth medical consultation with a Doctor On Demand physician. The Doctor On Demand service connects consumers to board-certified doctors via a live video link. The service is available 24/7, with a typical wait time of five minutes, and is accessible to consumers through computers, tablets, or mobile phones.
Although telehealth has been considered a promising venue for health care delivery, consumers have been slow to take advantage of virtual care options. A 2017 survey by Avizia, a telehealth company, found that 58 percent of consumers polled had never used telehealth services. Questions about payment were one barrier: two-thirds of survey respondents said they were unsure whether their insurance would cover telehealth.
According to RB officials, the Walmart coupon program will help overcome payment questions and introduce consumers to a convenient technology. “Partnering with RB and Walmart is a big step in moving the telemedicine industry forward, and ensuring that consumers are aware they can see a physician and receive high-quality care anywhere, at any time,” said Hill Ferguson, CEO at Doctor On Demand. “Our physicians can treat 90 percent of the most common medical issues seen in the ER and urgent care, including cold and flu, skin and eye issues, allergies, back pain, and more. We’re proud to be driving innovative solutions that put patients first and improve access to care this cold & flu season and beyond.”
Officials note that consumers want to be proactive in their own health care, and that introducing telemedicine during the flu season could be a good fit for patients unable to fit in a visit to a doctor’s office. The release announcing the service noted that:
- It takes an average of 18 days to schedule a visit with a doctor;
- It can take up to three hours to complete that visit, from the time one leaves the office or home to when that person returns;
- 30 percent of adults don’t have a primary care physician; and
- The average cost for a visit is $150.
“We found through research that many Walmart shoppers are looking for new ways to take health matters into their own hands. However, despite consumers’ desire to take more control of their health, the path isn’t always clear, and access to fast, reliable, and affordable healthcare solutions remains a cause of stress,” said Gregory Chabidon, a CMO at RB. “The program with Doctor On Demand at the start of cough, cold and flu season is designed to help improve access to healthcare at just the right time. We are really excited to learn from this and to continue building on our healthcare collaboration with Walmart.”