Walgreens expands health-and-wellness offerings with Optimal Wellness

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens has launched an innovative self-care educational program for people with chronic conditions that initially will focus on people with Type 2 diabetes.

The program, Walgreens Optimal Wellness, marks another step the drug store chain has made to expand the role of pharmacists as healthcare service providers. Walgreens officially began enrolling patients Jan. 1 and is initially launching this program at select drug stores in four markets across the United States: Indianapolis; Phoenix; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Oklahoma City.

Optimal Wellness uses a patient-centric approach that works in concert with the patient’s primary care physician to help them more easily understand their disease, Walgreens said. The core of the approach features a program of individual health coaching and diabetes counseling personalized to meet patients’ needs. It is based on the North Carolina Center for Pharmaceutical Care’s highly successful Asheville, N.C. diabetes care project, as well as previous Walgreens diabetes pilot education programs developed by Walgreens and Joslin Diabetes Center, a global leader in diabetes research, education and care, affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

“Walgreens Optimal Wellness utilizes our wide range of healthcare providers and resources to control debilitating and costly chronic care conditions,” said Greg Wasson, Walgreens president and CEO. “Diabetes is one of the most difficult chronic care diseases to manage and the most costly. Through accessible community pharmacies, our program brings patients the tools they need to live healthier and more productive lives.”

Such healthcare providers as community pharmacists and nurse practitioners from Walgreens' retail clinic chain Take Care Health Systems participate as health coaches for patients. In this role, these professionals will help identify patient challenges to managing their condition and counsel them on overcoming those obstacles, as well as reinforce and support all aspects of physicians’ prescribed treatment plans. Following each interaction with a health coach, the patient’s primary care physician will be notified with details of the meeting so that they will be kept abreast of the information that the patient will receive.

Each of the coaches has been trained through a program developed with the help of Joslin Diabetes Center. The program has been certified by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.

“Treating diabetes remains a daunting challenge,” said Lucy Crane, M.D., Walgreens corporate medical director. “While great strides are being made through research and education that have reduced the effects of diabetes complications, nearly 900 people die from complications from this disease every day. Providing patients with their own personal health coach will enable them to develop a step-by-step diabetes plan that is ongoing, convenient and customized to daily life. Directly engaging with patients leads to far better adherence and ultimately better outcomes when treating chronic diseases.”

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