The deal provides more non-emergency options for patients in a move aimed in part at cutting healthcare costs from ER visits and improving the care continuum.
Atlanta’s Piedmont Healthcare will formally take control of 27 retail clinics located in Walgreen’s stores across the Atlanta area this month as a deal struck in February is completed. The retail clinics will complement Piedmont Healthcare’s existing virtual care (Piedmont OnCall), primary care and urgent care nonemergency options. Piedmont Healthcare will operate and provide all clinical services at the health clinics, which will be rebranded as Piedmont QuickCare at Walgreen’s.
Piedmont CEO Kevin Brown says the new clinics will complement the health system’s existing primary care and urgent care network, and will operate seven days a week in most locations.
“Our goal is simple. To provide same-day access to high quality care close to home,” said Brown, in a press release.
Walgreen’s in recent years has been scaling back operational control of its in-store clinics, preferring to outsource management of the clinics to its hospital and health system partners. It announced a deal in early 2016 for its Chicago-area clinics with Advocate Health Care, the city’s largest hospital system, in which the health system took over ownership and management of the chain’s 56 in-store clinics. Before that, it did a similar deal in the Seattle area with Providence Health & Services.
As part of the agreement with Piedmont, Walgreens and Piedmont will form a collaborative council to share best practices and experiences that aim to improve patient care, quality and satisfaction while reducing healthcare costs. Unnecessary emergency department visits are a big cost driver for healthcare, and health systems will need to employ strategies to reduce such unnecessary visits under value-based reimbursement schemes if, as is anticipated, they eventually displace the more common fee-for-service reimbursement.
The new clinic agreement builds on an existing relationship between the two organizations that dates back to 2009, when Walgreen’s began operating the pharmacy at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, the health system’s flagship.
Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.