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Walgreens to open 40 new primary care clinics by the end of next summer

These openings are a part of Walgreens' larger plan to open 500 to 700 clinics in more than 30 U.S. markets in the next five years.

Mallory Hackett, Associate Editor

Walgreens Boots Alliance and VillageMD are putting their partnership to work by rolling out plans to open 40 new full-service primary care clinics by the end of summer 2021.

The clinics will be built in areas of Houston, El Paso and Austin, Texas; Phoenix; and Orlando, Florida.

The first locations built outside of Houston will open in the Phoenix area starting December 14.

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Patients will have access to both Walgreens pharmacists and VillageMD physicians that offer a full suite of primary care and pharmacy services. The clinics will accept a wide range of health insurance.

WHY THIS MATTERS

These openings are a part of Walgreens' larger plan to open 500 to 700 Village Medical at Walgreens clinics in more than 30 U.S. markets in the next five years.

More than half of the clinics will be located within Health Professional Shortage Areas and Medically Underserved Areas/Populations, as designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The first five locations were in Houston and experienced overwhelmingly positive feedback and high satisfaction from both patients and physicians, Walgreens said in its announcement. It attributes the expansion plans to this initial success.

Walgreens' full-service primary care option competes directly with providers and hospitals that offer off-campus clinics.

THE LARGER TREND

Walgreens faces competition from CVS and Walmart, who have opened up similar clinics for themselves.

CVS has plans to open 1,500 HealthHubs by the end of 2021.

Walmart stepped into the primary care space with its Walmart Health care centers earlier this year with intentions to open 22 facilities by the end of 2021. Walmart Health clinics offer primary and urgent care, counseling, dental, optometry and hearing services to those with or without insurance.

The retail giant also launched Walmart Insurance Services, a licensed insurance brokerage, this fall. It offers a range of plan options, including Part D, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans, from a variety of insurers, such as Humana, UnitedHealthcare, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Amerigroup, Simply Health, Wellcare (Centene), Clover Health and Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

In preparation for the COVID-19 vaccine, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, along with the Department of Defense, initiated partnerships with CVS and Walgreens to provide and administer free vaccines to long-term care facilities across the country.

ON THE RECORD

"Walgreens is proud to partner with VillageMD to offer the most comprehensive and large-scale roll out of physician-led primary care services co-located in a retail pharmacy setting," said Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance. "Our role as part of patient care teams has never been more critical, and our partnership with VillageMD enables us to provide more people with convenient access to high-quality, affordable care embedded in their communities."

Twitter: @HackettMallory
Email the writer: mhackett@himss.org