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Report: MedExpress, Walgreens pilots grow to 15 locations

The coupling of UnitedHealth Group's MedExpress urgent care centers to select Walgreens locations has grown to 15 locations, according to a Forbes report published last week.

"We have about a dozen or so locations that we brought online throughout 2017 and that was really to see whether not a retail side of service, in this case with Walgreens, would be an attractive venue for care delivery," David Wichmann, CEO UnitedHealth Group, told shareholders in January. "The results are not near final but we’re hoping that our MedExpress surgical care model with an adjunct pharmacy performs as good or better than without, meaning that we can provide more convenient service to consumers at a lower cost and with very, very high levels of quality as MedExpress. ... This is just part of developing an overall higher performing local health systems. So it [would] just be one component that's maybe nested inside a local care delivery market with ambulatory surgical capacities and house calls and things of that nature."

"It makes sense from a customer and patient point of view that you can go in and get yourselves sorted, when you have an accident or when you need a medical or something of that type, which is what MedExpress does," Alex Gourlay, co-COO Walgreens Boots Alliance, told shareholders in a separate conference call. "In terms of the clinics, we're really pleased with the partnerships we've got there. They are local, which is important to the health systems. We are providing different services depending on what we want to do and what the local needs are, and it fits really well into Walgreens' brand [identity]."

The most recent MedExpress Urgent Care centers debuted last month in the Las Vegas market, which also marked the first MedExpress locations in Nevada. Conveniently connected to Walgreens, the MedExpress neighborhood medical centers offer patients walk-in treatment for urgent care, employer health services and basic wellness and prevention.

“MedExpress is a resource for busy families and employers that need timely access to affordable, high-quality health care close to home and work,” Fred Hinz, regional vice president, MedExpress, said. “We put each patient at the center of everything we do and focus on exceeding expectations by providing the best possible experience. Being connected to Walgreens will enable our patients to receive quality care and purchase any other items they need, all in one trip.”

"For now, the effort between the Optum healthcare provider unit of the nation’s largest health insurer and the nation’s largest drugstore chain is a pilot project. But the venture is creating buzz among investors as rival pharmacy chain CVS Health has promised primary care pilots of its own after it completes its $69 billion acquisition of Aetna, the nation’s third-largest health insurer," wrote Bruce Japsen, Forbes contributor.

Each neighborhood medical center has a separate entrance and multiple exam rooms, a procedure room and an X-ray suite. In addition to offering treatment for everyday illnesses and injuries, MedExpress provides health services for local employers, including workers’ compensation injuries, injury care, pre- and ongoing employment screenings, physicals and regulatory exams. Basic wellness and prevention services include physicals, immunizations and other services to help patients maintain good health.

The centers are staffed by a full medical team that includes nurses, medical providers, radiologic technologists and customer service representatives.

Forbes reported there are 15 locations in six states that have MedExpress urgent care centers connected to Walgreens stores as part of the pilot. The markets include Las Vegas, Dallas, Minneapolis, Omaha, Neb., two cities in West Virginia and Martinsville, Va.

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