The idea behind the “Balance Rewards for healthy choices” initiative is to help participants modify behavior risk factors associated with the nation’s most urgent public health issues. It’s the first community pharmacy program that includes behavior-change training based on psychologist Dr. B.J. Fogg’s methodology.
Pharmacists and Walgreens online Pharmacy Chat agents will be equipped with the knowledge and resources needed to provide wellness coaching using the Tiny Habits method — Fogg’s approach to behavior change that encourages simple steps, or micro-habits, that lead to a healthier life.
“Adopting a consistently healthy action like practicing a balanced diet, exercising more or changing other lifestyle habits is typically not easy,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness. “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.”
To fuel the initiative, program members can earn Walgreens Balance Rewards loyalty program points by participating in various health-related programs and tracking progress toward a goal. The program aims to make this easy through the optional use of mobile devices and apps. Future program enhancements could include awarding points for adopting healthy eating habits.
“Pharmacists are respected and trusted sources for ongoing support and can help people recognize that they’re succeeding on their healthcare journey with small steps. That feeling of making progress can help participants form healthy habits,” added Fogg.
Balance Rewards for healthy choices includes three key elements and a number of early initiatives, and it will expand over time.
Participants earn points for activities like walking, running and biking, and can automatically track activities by connecting their Balance Rewards account with fitness devices and apps such as MapMyFitness, Lose It!, MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper. Compatible health and fitness devices include Fitbit and Withings, as well as more than 40 other devices.
Walgreens now offers Balance Rewards points for participants who track their blood pressure and glucose levels at home. Participants using iHealth blood pressure and glucose monitors can connect their Balance Rewards account to the device to automatically track their data.
The program also offers Balance Rewards points through Walgreens' new smoking-cessation program launching in September. The program will include smoking cessation content and tools on Walgreens.com; individual support through the Walgreens online Pharmacy Chat; and tools to enable participants to track their progress toward smoking cessation, while earning Balance Rewards points. Additional program features will be added in the coming months.
“Pharmacy Chat will support participants by helping them better understand the path to smoking cessation, including setting a quit date, optimally using over-the-counter and prescription medications, as well as utilizing other tools and supports,” said Harry Leider, M.D., Walgreens chief medical officer.
Using a digitally connected scale or logging their results manually, participants can earn points each time their weight is checked. A nutritional behavior change program is planned for addition to the Balance Rewards for healthy choices website in the coming months.