Walgreens’ loyalty program targets health

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DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreen Co. has expanded its Balance Rewards loyalty program with new features that promote and support healthful behaviors.

The new initiative includes behavior change training based on a methodology developed by psychologist B.J. Fogg.

The new “Balance Rewards for healthy choices” program is designed to help participants modify or reduce risky behaviors such as smoking or unhealthy eating habits by giving them incentives in the form of Balance Rewards points. To help them achieve their goals, selected Walgreens pharmacists and online Pharmacy Chat agents are receiving behavior change training led by Fogg that will enable them to provide wellness coaching.

Fogg’s approach, known as Tiny Habits, encourages simple steps, or “micro-habits,” that can lead to a healthier lifestyle.

“Adopting a consistently healthy action like practicing a balanced diet, exercising more or changing other lifestyle habits is typically not easy,” says president of pharmacy, health and wellness Kermit Crawford. “Through our Balance Rewards for healthy choices initiative, Walgreens encourages participants to adopt healthy actions with the added support and guidance of our pharmacists and Walgreens online Pharmacy Chat agents trained on Dr. Fogg’s Tiny Habits approach.

“This is a perfect fit for a community pharmacy-based program in which our pharmacists have frequent contact with ­consumers.”

Program members earn Balance Rewards points by participating in various health-related programs and tracking their progress toward a specific goal. As an option, the program enables them to do this using mobile devices and apps.

Health plans and other payers have the ability to define additional activities for their members to earn Balance Rewards points that help payers meet higher patient engagement, HEDIS and 5 Star goals.

Initially, Balance Rewards for healthy choices consists of three key elements, which are expected to expand with time.

Get Fit focuses on exercise and activity, and encourages participants to earn points for such activities as walking, running and biking. Those who use fitness devices or apps such as MapMyFitness, Lose It!, MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper can connect them to their Balance Rewards account. In all, more than 40 health and fitness devices are compatible, including Fitbit and Withings.

The second key element, Manage Health, focuses on adopting such healthy habits as tracking blood pressure and glucose levels and, beginning in September, engaging in a new Walgreens smoking cessation program. In addition to content and tools that will be available on, Walgreens online Pharmacy Chat agents will provide individual support.

“Pharmacy Chat will support participants by helping them better understand the path to smoking cessation, including setting a quit date and optimally using over-the-counter and prescription medications, as well as utilizing other tools and supports,” explains Dr. Harry Leider, Walgreens’ chief medical officer.

A healthful, balanced diet is the program’s third key element, Eat Right. Participants can use digitally connected scales or manually log results of their weight control efforts. In coming months, a nutritional behavior change program will be added.



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