As Rite Aid partners up with American Well, here’s another example of the further retail-ization of health in the U.S.

The subtext of this arrangement is the fact that the pharmacy is a touch-point for health consumers who seek trust, convenience, access, and an understandable market channel for health.

Rite Aid will be the first pharmacy to test the American Well service that enables patients to interact online with providers. In this program, consumers will interact live online via Internet or phone with Rite Aid pharmacies from both their homes and private consultation rooms at select Rite Aid pharmacies.

The consults will focus on medication consultations and advice, and result in an electronic record of the conversations.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: The pharmacist continues to be one of the most trusted health providers in a consumer’s personal health ecosystem. The pharmacy plays, and will increasingly play the role of trusted intermediary for health citizens who like the up-close-and-personal relationship with the professional pharmacist. Retail channels are seen as accessible, friendly places. American Well will take that conversation from the bricks-and-mortar storefront to the phone and mouse, making that encounter and advice even more accessible.

And accessibility leads to health engagement. This is particularly powerful in the context of medication adherence and compliance. The chart shows data analyzed by the New England Healthcare Institute (NEHI) in their report, Thinking Beyond the Pillbox. NEHI highlighted the challenge of medication adherence and how lack of compliance leads to health consequences of increased emergency visits, hospital admissions, and sometimes, death.

NEHI calculated that the medication adherence problem equates to 13% of total health spending in the U.S .

The Rite Aid-American Well alliance can help bridge health consumers’ confusion about prescription drug instructions and benefits. The doctor’s prescription is just one link in the health citizen’s value chain. It’s up to him/her to follow through. That’s where this program can help bolster consumers’ healthy behaviors, closing the loop on that value chain and bringing healthier outcomes to people who engage in conversations with pharmacists.