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Analysis

Walgreens and VillageMD to Open Hundreds of Primary Care Offices in Retail Locations

By Mandy Roth  
   July 08, 2020

Retail healthcare sector heats up with five-year plan calling for opening up to 700 full-service physician offices co-located in Walgreens stores.

In the next five years, a doctor will be in the building in hundreds of Walgreen's locations. Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. and VillageMD today announced plans to take a successful pilot to the next level with plans to open full-service primary care physicians' offices at 500 to 700 store locations over the next five years.

The concept, known as Village Medical at Walgreens, involves opening physician-led primary care clinics in more than 30 U.S. markets in the next five years, with plans to build hundreds more thereafter, according to a news release.

Walgreens joins other companies in the retail sector, including CVS and Walmart, who are already seeking ways to capture a share of this emerging market segment. CVS has established some 1,100 in-store MinuteClinics, offering access to onsite nurse practitioners and physician's assistants. Last year the retailer announced its HealthHUB concept, offering an expanded range of health services and wellness products for everyday care and chronic conditions in up to 1,500 of its stores by the end of 2021.

Walmart announced plans last year for its Walmart Health concept, offering services such as primary care, labs, X-ray and EKG, counseling, dental, optical, hearing and community health education. A pilot location opened in Dallas, Georgia, with plans to expand to other markets.

Walgreen's approach is somewhat different, with a focus on primary care. According to the release, its clinics will:

  • Integrate the pharmacist as a critical member of VillageMD’s multi-disciplinary team
     
  • Will be staffed by more than 3,600 primary care providers, who will be recruited by VillageMD
     
  • Accept a wide range of health insurance options and offer comprehensive primary care across a broad range of physician services
     
  • Offer 24/7 care via telehealth and at-home visits

Additional factors of note:

  • More than 50% of the clinics will be located in health professional shortage areas and medically underserved areas/populations, as designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
     
  • Most of the clinics will be approximately 3,300 square feet each, with some as large as 9,000 square feet. "They will optimize existing space in the store, which will also still provide a vast range of retail products to customers," according to Walgreens.

“This rollout is a major advancement of one of Walgreens Boots Alliance’s four key strategic priorities, Creating Neighborhood Health Destinations,” said Stefano Pessina, executive vice chairman and CEO, Walgreens Boots Alliance in the announcement. “These clinics at our conveniently located stores are a significant step forward in creating the pharmacy of the future, meeting many essential health needs all under one roof as well as through other channels.”

This rollout follows a trial with five in-store clinics in the Houston, Texas area. The pilot "produced very strong results after opening last November including high patient satisfaction," according to Walgreens.

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Walgreens and VillageMD


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Integrated model will include the pharmacist and primary care physicians as part of the healthcare delivery team.

Company expects to recruit 3,600 physicians and also offer telehealth and at-home visits for 24/7 care.

More than 50% of the clinics will be located in areas designated as health professional shortage areas and medically underserved areas/populations.


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