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Walgreens pioneers mhealth’s integration with mobile loyalty

As the mhealth space heats up, an important new frontier for retailers could be mobile loyalty integrations, a strategy Walgreens is currently pioneering.

Walgreens and WebMD are poised to lead the mhealth sector in 2015 as they strengthen the connection between mobile health platforms and loyalty programs with their collaboration on a digital wellness program that incorporates Walgreens Balance Rewards. The two health companies are joining forces to roll out Your Digital Health Advisor, a virtual wellness-coaching platform that creates personalized goals and action plans for users seeking to make lifestyle changes.

“Walgreens sees some 8 million customers a day, and WebMD has 66 million unique visitors each month, so combined we have greater opportunities to create touch points with consumers at an enormous scale to help consumers improve health and wellness by empowering decision-making and motivating positive action,” said a spokesman for WebMD, New York.

“WebMD and Walgreens have a shared mission to improve health and wellness by empowering decision-making and motivating positive action. Working together, we will accelerate both companies’ efforts to realize this critical goal.”

Rewarding loyal users
The Walgreens, WebMD partnership also includes the integration of Walgreen’s popular loyalty program and prescription refill services into the WebMD mobile app.

By entering into a cross-partnership, Walgreens and WebMD will be able to leverage a wider client base and introduce new users to the Walgreens Balance Rewards program, which will offer customers points for partaking in healthy behaviors. Consumers will also be able to purchase or refill prescriptions at Walgreens pharmacies by using the WebMD mobile app.

To use the health tool, customers can scan the barcode on their prescription or manually enter information to enable their order to be ready for pick-up at their nearest Walgreens.

Meanwhile, customers can access pharmacy and health services on their mobile devices with the introduction of Your Digital Health Advisor. Users can enroll on to engage in interactive programs designed to help with weight management, nutrition, smoking cessation, emotional health and exercise.

The platform is powered by WebMD, and also offers a Walgreens Pharmacy Chat option for consumers seeking to talk to health experts trained in wellness coaching and encouraging positive lifestyle choices. Participants of the program will receive Balance Rewards points for making progress towards their goals, which can be redeemed for future purchases at Walgreens.

Tracking healthy behaviors
Walgreens Balance Rewards have also been integrated into the WebMD Healthy Target mobile improvement platform, where users may track healthy behaviors within the app and receive rewards for specific achievements.

The Healthy Target platform, found in WebMD’s mobile app for the iPhone, enables users to upload biometric device data from third-party devices, activity trackers, glucometers and wireless scales to receive customized, physician-reviewed content and inspirational tips.

“WebMD’s mobile app strategy is centered on leveraging personalized user data and combining it with WebMD’s contextual content and insights,” WebMD’s spokesman said. “We are partnering with innovative companies and developing new products and services to make health information more actionable.

“WebMD will continue to listen to its audience to develop mobile apps and programs designed to provide health information and content at the time, place and on the devices desired by our audience.”

The brands have plans to integrate Healthy Target with the Walgreens Activity Tracker to offer customers new ways to capture and understand their health information.

Walgreens has long been a proponent of strong mobile strategy, prompting the retail chain to see in-store NFC payments double after its partnership with mobile payment solution Apple Pay (see story).

Its Balance Rewards program currently enjoys 82 million members and offers quick solutions to garnering more points, such as an in-app features that allows customers to scan their receipts with their smartphone camera to add them into their loyalty accounts.

The brand’s collaboration with WebMD is likely to garner even more loyal customers for both companies, as the health sector continues to expand to mobile.

“We are excited about the opportunities we see in healthcare and will continue to invest to position the company as the central place that consumers go for actionable health and lifestyle information,” WebMD’s spokesman said.

“Transformational changes are happening across the health and wellness landscape and causing a consumerization of health care. These changes, driven by consumers’ increasing financial responsibility for their care and the advent of digital health technologies, are fundamentally changing the relationships consumers have with health care professionals, employers, even their local pharmacies and retailers,” he said.

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York