Theranos and Walgreens announced a long-term partnership to bring access to Theranos’ new lab testing service through Walgreens pharmacies nationwide. As the service becomes available through Theranos Wellness Centers inside Walgreens stores, consumers will be able to access less invasive and more affordable clinician-directed lab testing.
With this news, it becomes clear that the days of the Walgreens pharmacist and nurse practitioner are numbered — not because those professionals are going anywhere, mind you, but because the connotation associated with those occupations really no longer applies. With the number of healthcare services being rolled out under the Walgreens umbrella, it would be more apropos to identify them as healthcare brokers.
That's because the scope of healthcare services, appropriate for the retail space, has become quite extensive. Over the past decade, retail clinics within Walgreens have grown from providing a short menu of acute-care items to becoming a destination center for immunizations and select chronic-care disease state management offerings. And as Walgreens relocated the pharmacist from behind the bench in an effort to increase customer accessibility, that pharmacist evolved from an adjudicator of prescriptions to a more fulfilling role as a healthcare counselor plus so much more. Where clinics aren't available, Walgreens pharmacists also serve as immunizers, medication therapy management counselors and adherence strategists. And beyond patient counseling, Walgreens pharmacists can help educate their senior citizen base on appropriate Medicare plans. And soon that also will include education on the new accountable care organizations that will help serve their entire patient base.
Walgreens is even extending their healthcare expertise beyond the retail patient. The chain most recently partnered with the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center on a bedside delivery program that will help boost adherence and compliance just before the last pieces of healthcare reform fall into place.
Another example of how Walgreens is helping to evolve what services are associated with pharmacy is its recent collaboration with Orlando Health. The services offered as part of that partnership will foster greater access to care, better coordination of care and an increase in patient awareness around all the healthcare services they can access through Orlando Health.
When you consider Walgreens' worksite centers and specialty pharmacy services, Walgreens is so much more than just a pharmacy. Similarly, their customer base extends well beyond just the prescription-filling patient. So the days of Walgreens' pharmacists and clinicians are numbered. They're healthcare brokers now.
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