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Checking the pulse on Walgreens’ plan to roll out in-store health clinics

November 30, 2021, 8:45 PM UTC

When pharmacy chains started offering COVID-19 vaccines, Americans lined up alongside cold medicines and cough drops, shampoo, and toilet paper to wait their turn for a jab. That now seems like preparation for the next big phase in pharmacy retail: the expansion of in-store health clinics.

CVS Health is currently leading the in-store health clinic race with 1,100 clinic locations, but Walgreens’ new plan makes it clear the company isn’t content to remain in second place. Walgreens currently has 50 in-house Village Medical clinics run by VillageMD. The pharmacy chain recently invested another $5.2 billion into VillageMD to become its majority owner, and it will put the company to work rolling out 600 Village Medical clinics by 2025. By 2027, Walgreens expects to have 1,000 clinics, with half in medically underserved urban and rural areas.

“The vision is, we want to be the leading partner in local health care, and so the goal is to leverage what we do so well today in pharmacy and to move that further into the continuum of value-based care,” says Anita Allemand, chief transformation and integration officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance. “The pandemic highlighted and validated for us that the health care industry really needs to change, and change quickly.”

At Walgreens, Allemand says, that means “pharmacists, physicians, and a multidisciplinary team all together under one roof focusing on taking care of the whole-person needs of a patient.”

Along with the health clinics, Walgreens is putting new technology and systems to work that will free up pharmacists so they can do more counseling and medication reviews with patients.

Allemand joins cohosts Beth Kowitt and Geoff Colvin on Fortune’s Reinvent, a podcast about fighting to thrive in a world turned upside-down. Also on the show are Brian Tanquilut, SVP of Healthcare Services Equity Research at Jefferies & Company, and Dr. Deidra Crews, professor of medicine and deputy director of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity. The discussion covers the reasons pharmacy chains are moving doctors in-house—and the potential benefits for the communities the clinics will serve. Listen to the full episode below.

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