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Walgreens and VillageMD partner on primary care

The Village Medical at Walgreens will operate next to the pharmacies, providing primary care integrated with pharmacy.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Walgreens and VillageMD are collaborating to offer primary care for adults in Houston, Texas.

VillageMD will operate primary care clinics next to five Walgreens stores in the Houston area, with the first locations scheduled to open by the end of 2019.

The 2,500 square-foot clinics called Village Medical at Walgreens will provide comprehensive primary care services, integrated with the pharmacy as well as nurses and social workers. VillageMD has more than 120 primary care physicians in the medical group in Houston.

Walgreens has indicated that the two companies will explore expanding the primary care model in other markets, but a spokeswoman said there is no further information to share at this time.

WHY THIS MATTERS

In-store healthcare at pharmacy stores is not new, but the expansion into a primary care model is more of a direct threat to hospitals and physician groups.

This is Walgreens' second primary care collaboration, the spokeswoman said.

The first was with Humana and their Partners in Primary Care subsidiary, which was announced in June 2018. The Humana partnership is testing the concept of a senior-focused neighborhood health hub that brings together primary care, pharmacy, in-person health plan support, and other services for Medicare beneficiaries in the Kansas City area.

Walgreens is also partnering with UnitedHealth Group on MedExpress urgent care centers.

CVS Health has HealthHUB, which was also rolled out in Houston, and more than 1,100 MinuteClinics.

In Hawaii, primary care provider Bay Clinic recently opened an in-house pharmacy, according to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. Bay Clinic patients can fill prescriptions at the new Keaau Family Health and Dental Center and at Walgreens pharmacies for the same discount under the 340B drug program, the report said.

As pharmacy front-of-the-store sales have reportedly fallen, the retail centers are moving more into the healthcare space, and partnerships such as the recent acquisition of Aetna by CVS gives them the technology for population health.

They also have a nationwide network in place.

VillageMD has grown to include more than 2,500 physicians across eight markets, and is responsible for approximately 500,000 lives and $2.8 billion in healthcare spending.

Walgreens, part of Walgreens Boots Alliance, operates an estimated 9,560 drugstores nationwide and in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

TECHNOLOGY

VillageMD has a patent-pending docOS system to identify missing diagnoses and gaps in health, allowing doctors and patients to better manage chronic conditions that impede health and drive costs in the healthcare system, Walgreens said.

The advanced technology includes check-in either by phone or a kiosk, home-based monitoring, and telemedicine.

ON THE RECORD

"VillageMD has a strong track record nationally of improving outcomes and reducing the cost of healthcare through their transformative primary care model," said Dr. Pat Carroll, Walgreens chief medical officer and group vice president, healthcare services and clinical programs.

"The integration of primary care and pharmacy is yet another example of the value-based commitment that Walgreens and VillageMD demonstrate to customers, patients and the broader healthcare landscape," said Tim Barry, CEO of VillageMD.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com

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