Walgreens’ Shah highlights retailer’s health access efforts in DSN webinar

Rina Shah, Walgreens group vice president of pharmacy operations and services, outlined the retailer’s vaccination efforts and its work to help improve access to health care for underserved communities in a recent DSN webinar.
David Salazar
Managing Editor
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As the country gets vaccinated, things are full-steam ahead at Walgreens as the retailer works to vaccinate Americans and continues to build out its healthcare offering. That was the message that Rina Shah, the company’s group vice president of pharmacy operations and services, brought to a recent discussion with DSN publisher John Kenlon. 

Shah said that a big focus for Walgreens in recent months has been on vaccinations and rallying its pharmacy staff base to help provide them. She noted that currently, 60,000 of its pharmacy staff members can administer vaccinations, up from 38,000 a few months ago, before the chain got its pharmacy technicians trained to immunize as part of rules laid out by the PREP Act. 

“We’re at a pivotal point right now as a country to get those that may be hesitant about getting vaccinated — to get them vaccinated,” Shah said. “That’s what our team members are really focused on right now, ensuring that we’re able to help support communities. And having an army of 60,000 individuals on that same mission is really critical, so we can make sure we’re making an impact.”

The vaccination effort also includes an extension of Walgreens’ work to support patients in pharmacy deserts and its investments in underserved communities, which have taken the form of educational efforts and partnerships, including one with Uber to help transport patients from underserved areas to a vaccination site. Also among its efforts to make healthcare accessible has been the expansion of its Walgreens Find Care tool over the past 13 months. 

“It connects our customers to either an in-person or an online healthcare provider,” Shah said. “I’ve used it myself and it’s been very convenient. It’s not only for illnesses and preventive care but it’s also for covid tests and other ways you can get access in case you have an emergency.”   

The full webinar which also includes discussion of Walgreens’ partnership with VillageMD and how Walgreens sees suppliers helping with the continuing demands of retailing, can be found here.