Coaching App Aces Walgreens Tech Challenge

The creators of mHealthCoach, a tablet-based health coaching app, received a $25,000 cash award from Walgreens, the retail pharmacy chain announced in September. The developers also earned an hour with Walgreens Chief Information Officer, Timothy Theriault, to discuss how their tool supports the chain’s ambition to transform community pharmacies into health and wellness hubs.

The team demonstrated their disease management app before an audience of mobile health enthusiasts at the Health 2.0 conference, held September 26 and 27, 2011, in San Francisco, California. Colin Watts, chief innovation officer for Walgreens, said the app “could be easily incorporated into the pharmacy of the future,” enabling patients to access and interpret their health data with a professional’s guidance.

mHealthCoach came about as a result of Walgreens’ participation in the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge Program, launched in June at the Health Data Initiative Forum in Washington, DC. As part of the program, Walgreens issued a challenge to mobile developers: create a user-friendly app that aggregates public health data according to a patient’s specific condition, health concern, or location.

The app would be used as a counseling tool by Walgreens’ new Health Guides—trained facilitators who help people navigate pharmacies and the larger health care system. The chain’s ultimate goal is to equip every Walgreens Health Guide with a wireless tablet loaded with apps that interface with health data from a variety of sources, including the patient’s pharmacy and electronic health records.

The Health Guides are a cornerstone of Walgreens’ vision for the future of retail pharmacy. Explaining the prototype to attendees at the Health Data Initiative Forum, Walgreens Chief Executive Officer Gregory D. Wasson, RPh, said, “We really see this individual becoming a new health care provider and a liaison to our patients.” More information about the Walgreens Health Guide Challenge is available at