Bringing an emotional approach to healthcare: The strategy behind Walgreens' 'Feel More Like You' program

Alia Paavola - Print  | 

Walgreen's recently launched a first-of-its-kind program in the U.S. designed to help oncology patients and survivors who have undergone physical changes associated with cancer. With the rollout of the "Feel More Like You" program, the company became the first in the country to integrate personalized oncology care from pharmacists with beauty support from trained consultants.

Under the free program, cancer patients, survivors and caregivers can meet with beauty consultants who have completed specialized training to address the physical changes associated with chemotherapy, such as hair loss, dry hair, dry skin, skin discoloration, sunlight sensitivities and changes to nails and cuticles.

Patients can ask their pharmacists, who also have received specialized cancer-specific training, to recommend over-the-counter products that may help manage side effects of chemotherapy.

Both consultants and pharmacist have completed empathy training. The program will be available in 3,000 Walgreens stores.

Rina Shah, PharmD, vice president of pharmacy operations at Walgreens, told Forbes that the motivating factor to debut a program like this was the patient's journey.

"A pill isn't the entire patient story. You don't feel good if you don't look good. And that is not about vanity. It's about a mother telling her kids she is still her, by looking and feeling like herself while undergoing treatment. It's about a woman being comfortable in her own skin despite changes or discoloration associated with chemotherapy," Dr. Shah said.

To understand how to better engage customers throughout the patient journey, the Walgreens team looked to its European counterparts at Boots, part of Walgreens Boots Alliance.

After looking at Boots' strategy, the Walgreens team recognized that across the globe health and beauty lines are beginning to blur, and customer needs are changing. That's when Walgreens realized that establishing a more holistic approach to cancer care was necessary in the U.S.  

So while having pharmacists trained in oncology was a big step forward, Dr. Shah and her counterpart Lauren Brindley, group vice president of beauty and personal care, knew more needed to be done. Together, the two women decided they wanted to bring a more emotional approach to solving health-related problems.

The two women believed it was time for patients to feel more like themselves after a cancer diagnosis.

To build out the program, Walgreens partnered with nonprofits and advocacy groups such as the Cancer Support Community and Look Good, Feel Better Foundation. It was from those partnerships that Walgreens learned the importance of emotional training.

The program model is unique in that it uses the traditional pharmacy to increase access to holistic care through beauty and wellness, bringing the care journey under one roof.  

Read the full article here.

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