Skip to main content

Walgreens to test diabetes care model


DEERFIELD, Ill. Ramping up its increasingly aggressive commitment to being a broad-based health solutions company, Walgreens is gearing up to test a new, pharmacy-centered disease management program for patients with diabetes.

Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson announced the plan during a conference call Monday with investment analysts as the company unveiled its third-quarter earnings results [see related story]. The new patient-care initiative comes as Walgreens continues its retail realignment and expands its integrated patient-care capabilities to health plan payers, employers and patients themselves.

“We’re pioneering new approaches to achieve better health care outcomes,” Wasson told analysts. “In coming quarters, we’ll pilot a chronic care management service in four markets, focused initially on Type 2 diabetes. The service will integrate capabilities across all of our platforms, including pharmacies, retail clinics, call centers and mail service, to enable patients to better control their conditions.”

In a related development, Walgreens stores in south Florida have teamed up with the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, based at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, to raise funds for a diabetes cure, and awareness about the disease. The joint effort involves 265 of the chain’s stores.

The chain “will continue to invest in these areas” going forward, Wasson said.

Walgreens is in the midst of a major transformation of its business. Central to its reinvention strategy, first announced last fall, are efforts to position itself to America’s employer-based health plan sponsors, pharmacy benefit managers, physicians and other health stakeholders as a highly accessible, cost-effective solution to a health care system whose costs are spiraling out of control.

In line with that effort, Wasson also revealed Monday that more than 16,000 Walgreens pharmacists “will be licensed by this fall to provide flu vaccinations and immunizations.“We also have nurse practitioners in about 350 in-store clinics to handle routine family illnesses at a much lower cost than an emergency room visit,” Wasson added. “These services sit very well with the major themes of health care reform: access, affordability, and disease prevention and wellness.”

What’s more, asserted Walgreens’ top manager, those services are increasingly vital to a health care system that is broken and in fundamental need of reform. “If left unchecked, some estimate health care costs will grow from about $2.5 trillion today to $4 trillion within a decade,” Wasson warned. “Walgreens and the retail pharmacy industry have a role in generating savings in health care.

“Our pharmacists and clinicians at retail and employer clinics are accessible, affordable providers of quality care, and it makes good economic sense to include them as part of the solution,” he added.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds