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Walgreens Boots Alliance and VillageMD have announced plans to open 29 new Village Medical at Walgreens practices in Houston, Austin and El Paso this year.
The strategic partnership is on track to meet its overall goal of opening at least 600 Village Medical at Walgreens in more than 30 U.S. markets over the next four years, with the intent to build hundreds more, according to Walgreens.
The expansion is part of the $1 billion accelerated investment effort announced in January 2021 to integrate Village Medical primary care physicians and Walgreens pharmacy services.
Today’s news follows Walgreens’ strategic plan to sell its wholesale pharmacy business to AmerisourceBergen for $6.5 billion, a transaction completed in June, for the company to use the cash to accelerate growth of its core retail pharmacy and healthcare businesses.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Walgreens is continuing its expansion into primary care through an integrated care delivery model that combines the customer convenience of a retail pharmacy with the benefit of claims access to improve medication adherence and lower costs.
Physicians and pharmacists are located under one roof.
“These benefits help patients take the right medication and the right doses at the right time, removing the barriers to accessing primary care and pharmacy by having it all in one place,” the company said.
In Austin, El Paso and Houston, there are more than 825,000 patients within five miles of a new or planned Village Medical at Walgreens who are over 65 years old, according to Walgreens.
Additionally, the companies have expanded their coordinated care model to allow Village Medical patients to access the same type of pharmacy services – including between-visit refills, medication substitutions and consultations – from select Walgreens sites that do not have a colocated Village Medical.
This program has launched at all colocations and is launching at nine non-colocations in the Houston and Phoenix areas.
With Walgreens being able to digitally access information from Village Medical, patients can receive the same type of coordinated care as they would at colocations, including saving time on prescription refills, navigating insurance coverage, finding less expensive medication alternatives and managing co-pay costs, the company said.
THE LARGER TREND
A year ago, Walgreens said it would open more than 500 Village MD primary care offices within stores. Walgreens has more than 21,000 stores.
It is competing against primary care providers and other large retail pharmacy chains, such as CVS, which has HealthHubs.
VillageMD partners with physicians to provide tools, technology, operations, staffing support and industry relationships. The Village Medical brand provides primary care for patients at traditional freestanding clinics, at Village Medical at Walgreens clinics, at home and via virtual visits.
VillageMD said is also among the largest participating sponsors of CMS’ new Direct Contracting program.
ON THE RECORD
“This strategic partnership between Walgreens and VillageMD demonstrates our continuing commitment to the care and well-being of our patients, and we’re excited to expand our primary care and pharmacy service offerings in Texas,” said Jamie Vortherms, vice president of healthcare services for Walgreens.
“With Village Medical primary care services and Walgreens pharmacy services delivered through an integrated care model, we’re facilitating regular and direct communication with patients, helping deliver improved health outcomes and affordable care,” said Dr. Clive Fields, cofounder and chief medical officer of VillageMD.
“We’re pleased to expand these offerings in Texas so residents can manage their chronic conditions and focus on being healthy, active members of their community.”
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