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Walgreens employees use iPads to aid customers

The next time you visit your local Walgreens store to get a prescription, find pain relief, choose laxatives or buy "Walker Balls," you may get help from an iPad-toting Walgreens employee called a "health guide."

Walgreens, based in Deerfield, IL, is testing a new service in 16 stores in the Chicago area where a full-time employee carrying an iPad wanders the store to help out customers who are seeking assistance. To quote Colin Watts, the chief innovation officer for Walgreen Company, "The concept is meant to create a pharmacy and health care 'help desk' where customers get solutions or referrals for their personal health questions."

According to a recent article in the Chicago Sun-Times, the company has an ulterior motive. The health guide keeps customers from taking up valuable time with pharmacists for routine issues, allowing them to provide more one-on-one care with patients.

The health guide app on the iPads was prepared by M-Healthcoach, another Chicago-based company. M-Healthcoach CEO Aamer Ghaffar said that "We are trying to not only improve people's quality of care, but also to reduce the patient load on doctors, pharmacies, and emergency rooms," with iPad-based mobile health apps.

The health guides use the iPads to access information from government databases to physician ratings, and can also get full access to "blue button" medical records available to U.S. military personnel and government employees and retirees.

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