The health system plans to provide more convenient care in co-branded retail clinics, as health systems have done in other markets.
Novant Health, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, agreed to hand the keys for nine of its pharmacies over to Walgreens, as part of a deal the 15-hospital system hopes will improve healthcare access in the Tar Heel State.
The arrangement calls for retail clinics, co-branded as "Novant Health Express at Walgreens," to be opened in three of the pharmacy chain's North Carolina locations early next year, with more sites to be added over the coming two years, according to the companies' announcement Tuesday.
The clinics will be staffed by Novant Health's advanced practice clinicians and open seven days per week.
The strategic partnership aims to make healthcare more convenient, affordable, and accessible, said Pam Oliver, MD, executive vice president and president of Novant Health Physician Network.
"Our new clinics at Walgreens will allow patients to avoid the emergency room by expanding access to quality care for minor illnesses and injuries, and create a new avenue for Novant Health to support and care for our patients with chronic conditions," Oliver said in a statement.
Novant Health, which operates in South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia as well, will continue to operate specialty pharmacies.
The arrangement is similar to strategic partnerships that Walgreens has forged with health systems in other markets, including deals with McLaren Health Care in Michigan, Norton Healthcare in the Greater Louisville area, and Providence St. Joseph Health in Washington and Oregon. Walgreens has also partnered with VillageMD on a primary care project in the Houston area.
"Our customers have come to rely on their local Walgreens to provide accessible and convenient health care options," said Chet Robson, DO, the pharmacy chain's acting chief medical officer, in the statement. "Our collaboration with Novant Health is a great example of how we're integrating care and bringing a simplified health care experience to North Carolina residents."
The first three "Novant Health Express at Walgreens" sites are expected to open in Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Leland.
Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.
The first three co-branded retail care sites are expected to open in three North Carolina cities early next year.
The clinics will be staffed by the health system's nurse practitioners and physician assistants.