Walgreens Boots Alliance, which has long struggled to cement its place in primary care services, plans to invest $1 billion to collocate in 500 to 700 VillageMD stores and, over the next five years, to offer full-service doctors’ offices. More than half of the locations will be in Health Professional Shortage Areas and Medically Underserved Areas/Populations as designated by the Health Resources & Services Administration.
The clinics, which will serve more than 30 markets, will be staffed by more than 3,600 primary care providers that VillageMD will recruit. The companies say that VillageMD data show that having pharmacies integrated with primary care leads to increased medication adherence and improved outcomes.
The move is part of a larger effort to reposition Walgreens from a community pharmacy to a health care destination, Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer of Walgreens, told Mobihealth News. In addition to expanding VillageMD primary care services, the new strategy will center on advancing digital integration across the retailer’s more than 18,000 health care-related stores.
Walgreens has been moving in this direction for some time with its Find Care digital platform that offers telehealth features through partnerships with startups like MDLive and Amwell, and links users with solutions for such chronic conditions as diabetes and asthma. The Find Care platform has generated about 8.5 million engagements over the past year, the company notes, with a significant influx of visits by people looking for COVID-19 resources, including testing and virus-related information.