WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT Walgreens hasn’t finished knocking down its organizational silos.
(THE NEWS: Integrating health solutions for payers, Walgreens unifies pharmacy, wellness, led by Crawford. For the full story, click here)
The latest move came Monday, when the drug store and health services giant revealed the full outlines of its massive restructuring of all its healthcare operations.
The changes included the promotions of at least three execs and the elimination of one high-level — but now apparently redundant — position. They cap an 18-month effort by Walgreens to pull together and streamline its powerful but formerly scattered assets in traditional and specialty pharmacy, home care, employer- and retail-based clinical care and institutional pharmacy, among other strengths — and present those assets as a unified set of solutions to PBMs, physicians, health provider networks, employers and other health plan payers.
The realignment thrusts veteran Walgreens EVP Kermit Crawford into a newly expanded and critical role as head of all pharmacy-related services. That includes not only the company’s 7,179 drug store pharmacies — which Crawford already oversaw before the reorganization — but also, going forward, Walgreens’ specialty pharmacy, infusion pharmacy, mail service pharmacy, medical campus pharmacies, long-term care pharmacy and home care services.
That makes Crawford ultimately responsible not only for optimizing performance at all the company’s broad-based pharmacy operations, but for finding new ways to integrate those operations more effectively on behalf of the health plan payers and managed care groups that rely on Walgreens for various kinds of pharmacy services for their members. In the words of Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson, Crawford’s job will be to “ensure that we provide premier service, cohesively and comprehensively across our full range of pharmacy operations.”
The shuffle in responsibilities, however, left Walgreens Health Services president Stan Blaylock without a chair when the music stopped. However, Blaylock, leaves on a solid footing. A noted healthcare entrepreneur who came to Walgreens only four years ago via its purchase of the company he founded, Medmark Specialty Pharmacy Solutions, he’s credited by Wasson with providing the experience and know-how to guide the chain’s rapid growth in specialty pharmacy and home care.
“He helped to nurture and grow these businesses…into mature entities, where they can now be fully integrated into our pharmacy operations,” said Walgreens’ CEO.
The list of those entities grew again this week, adding yet more clout to Walgreens’ specialty pharmacy delivery capabilities. On Wednesday, the company said it had completed its deal to buy Cardinal Health’s SpecialtyScripts LLC subsidiary. The purchase of SpecialtyScripts, based in Fall River, Mass., gives the company another outlet and additional expertise in dispensing and administering specialized medications for chronic illnesses and complex diseases like hepatitis C, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and oral oncology.