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Blue Shield of California and Walgreens Health are expanding access to in-person and virtual care options through the launch of 12 new Walgreens Health Corner locations in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County.
Walgreens Health Corner locations offer people an “integrated care experience,” according to a joint statement from the companies, with access to Health Advisors. The advisors are qualified personnel with clinical backgrounds, such as pharmacists and registered nurses, who are available for in-store health counsultations.
Support and services on the Walgreens Health Corner app will also be included.
WHAT’S THE IMPACT
The types of services offered at the locations range from preventive care and wellness checks to assistance with managing chronic conditions.
They include counseling from Health Advisors on general health questions; select health screenings, such as blood pressure checks and HbA1c tests; answering questions about prescription and over-the-counter medications; scheduling mammography appointments; providing test kits for colorectal cancer screenings; and assistance with digital health applications and medical devices.
The services are available at no additional cost to members enrolled in Blue Shield’s commercial PPO and HMO plans who live within 20 miles of a Walgreens Health Corner location. There are currently 12 Walgreens Health Corner locations available in the Bay Area and Los Angeles County, and an additional eight are planned by the middle of this year.
According to the companies, the initiative is designed to reduce care gaps and improve care management and coordination by providing access to more affordable and convenient services. It’s part of Blue Shield’s overall Health Reimagined strategy.
THE LARGER TREND
In October 2021, Walgreens upped its healthcare strategy by launching a new business segment, Walgreens Health. With the launch, the company is doubling down on its consumer-centric healthcare strategy. Walgreens described the new business segment as “a technology-enabled care model powered by a nationally scaled, locally delivered healthcare platform.”
The platform will offer care in-store, at home, in the doctor’s office or via mobile app. It will also partner with payers and providers to give value-based care.
Retail pharmacies such as Walgreens are increasingly becoming a one-stop-shop for consumers’ health and wellness needs, competing against traditional providers. In fact, more than half (51%) of retail pharmacy customers say they’ve used health and wellness services at their pharmacy over the last year, according to the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Pharmacy Study.
Based on these shifting consumer needs, a number of other retail companies are placing bets on healthcare. CVS has its own line of primary care clinics, called HealthHUBs, and also recently launched virtual care services.
Walmart has also dipped into healthcare by opening Walmart Health clinics in a number of its stores and selling insurance plans through its licensed insurance brokerage Walmart Insurance Services. Additionally, Walmart Health recently added telehealth capabilities through its acquisition of MeMD.
Even Amazon is getting on the bandwagon with the launch of Amazon Care, a virtual primary care offering, and Amazon Pharmacy, an online pharmacy that delivers to users’ homes.