Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness, has decided to retire after 31 years with the company. While a true pharmacy visionary may be leaving the company, he's not going far as he will continue to serve as a senior counselor to Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson. And he's not going soon, as his retirement from Walgreens is not effective until the end of the year, which means he will still be leaving his indellible mark on the chain in the near term.
Crawford is a staunch advocate of not only lifting up the pharmacist, enabling them to practice at the top of their license, but also of lifting up pharmacy into becoming the kind of healthcare destination center this country demands. People living longer and there is a shortage of physicians — and retail pharmacy is the industry best equipped to meet the nation's evolving healthcare needs. And Crawford helped put into practice what many professionals were only talking about — transforming the pharmacist's role from medication quality control specialist to the more critical role of patient counselor and advocate and setting the stage for pharmacist as provider. "For us the product is no longer the pill," Crawford told DSN regarding the transformation of Walgreens' pharmacy operations. "The product is the health outcome associated with that pill," he said. “We are deliberately transforming the way we practice pharmacy, going from what was a transaction-based environment to one that is more about patient relationships."
In transforming the way healthcare professionals operate today, Crawford has helped put into play retail health services like patient adherence programs, a growing menu of health tests and collaborative disease management efforts with hospitals and physicians.
Crawford can also be credited for Walgreens' significant immunization program - for example, Walgreens is the nation’s leading flu shot provider after the U.S. government. The total number of all CDC-recommended immunizations and vaccines administered by Walgreens reached 8.6 million in the first half of its current fiscal year, an 11% increase over the previous year. And it's not just influenza vaccinations that Walgreens dominates. They are the No. 1 retail provider of Zostavax for shingles.
“Walgreens can connect the dots in American health care,” Crawford told DSN. “With health reform and rising health costs, we have a real opportunity here. The goal is to leverage our assets, our footprint of over 8,000 points of care, our presence in the community, our hospital and employer- based pharmacies and health centers and our clinics … to help manage total population health.”
Joining Walgreens in 1983, Crawford has been a store pharmacist, a district manager, VP store operations and VP pharmacy benefit management services. In his advisory role, while he will still have a vital impact on the growth of Walgreens pharmacy, he will also have an opportunity to continue to advance the role of community pharmacy through his work at USC.