"There's clearly a shortage of physicians," says Crawford. "In the communities where we have our healthcare clinics, approximately 40% of the people who come in don't have a primary care physician. Our objective is to support and complement the traditional healthcare system. We believe we're well positioned to serve as an entry point."
Crawford's earliest attempt to modify Walgreens' value position to consumers and patients was in 2006 when the pharmacy chain started offering flu shots at its stores. His confidence was initially shaky.
"When we first began to think about really transforming the role of community pharmacists, our question was, 'Will the American consumer allow pharmacists do more than put pills in a bottle?' "
The other unanswered question Crawford faced at the time was getting pharmacists on board because they needed additional training to become certified immunizers.
"You don't graduate from pharmacy school as a certified immunizer," he says.
Crawford says the additional training appealed only to the early adopters, but two things happened that turned doubters into believers: No.1, consumers responded overwhelmingly to the convenience of getting a flu shot at a store they trusted and shopped; No. 2, the appearance of the H1N1 virus in the United States in 2009.