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Boots to pilot selling Microsoft healthcare devices in some pharmacies

“Digital health corners” will be piloted in some Boots pharmacies as part of a seven-year deal
“Digital health corners” will be piloted in some Boots pharmacies as part of a seven-year deal

Boots will pilot selling healthcare-related devices powered by Microsoft in a number of stores as part of a deal by its parent company.

The “digital health corners” will be piloted in 12 pharmacies owned by Walgreens Boots Alliance, some of which will be Boots stores in the UK, the company announced on Tuesday (January 15).

Walgreens Boots Alliance and Microsoft are also considering establishing “joint innovation centres in key markets” – including in the UK – as part of an agreement designed to “improve health outcomes and lower overall costs”, it added.

By joining forces, the companies are looking to create “a seamless ecosystem…to better connect consumers, providers – including Walgreens and Boots pharmacists – pharmaceutical manufacturers and payors”, Walgreens Boots Alliance said.

The seven-year partnership will focus on using customers’ digital devices to connect them to Walgreens Boots Alliance stores and services, including “virtual care”, the company explained.

In addition, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Microsoft plan to develop apps for chronic-disease management and patient engagement, as well as devices for managing non-acute chronic conditions.

Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Stefano Pessina said the partnership with the technology firm demonstrates the health and beauty giant's commitment to creating “integrated, next-generation, digitally enabled healthcare delivery solutions for our customers”.

The partnership will transform its pharmacies “into modern neighbourhood health destinations and [expand] customer offerings”, he added.

Sharing data

The companies said they will “proactively engage” with patients and their healthcare providers to improve medication adherence and reduce visits to emergency rooms.

Walgreens Boots Alliance stressed that “data privacy, security and consent [are] core to this model” and will be protected by a “trusted cloud platform” built by Microsoft.

The news comes two weeks after Boots announced it had acquired healthcare technology company Wiggly-Amps, which allows patients to order their prescriptions online by linking to their health records.

What do you make of Walgreen Boots Alliance's partnership?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

It's an interesting relationship between surgery and pharmacy if one fully engages with these technolgies that Boots are offering now and in the future and I'll compare it to Apple products.

Once you buy a song from iTunes, it only works on an Apple device, much like using their cloud storage, you wouldn't be able to back up from a competiting brand, so you continue to buy and use Apple products.

There is patient choice, but only at a major inconvience, and that would be my challenge.

Lucky Ex-Boots Slave, Primary care pharmacist

From my numerous experience with Boots, I can confidently describe their IT system in one word, crap. Utterly crap in two words. Boots knows nothing in technologies and they will never do. Mind you they are still matching barcodes with human eyes one by one when they claim for electronic prescriptions which is just a joke. 

C A, Community pharmacist

Well it's Microsoft that are providing the IT, and that is what they are known for.

While they are at it maybe Boots can get them to make a PMR too?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I don't think there is any money in it, particularly most recently PMRs are having to slap on some sort of FMD solution, although it might be a decent kickstart from moving away from things like prescription pantomimes by actually having a tracking system in place. 

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