Walgreens partners with health plan on expanding infusion services — patient pays less, gets more

Walgreens Infusion Services partnered with a regional healthcare plan operator to better serve specialty infusion patients. Because alternate treatment sites represent a less-expensive care option, the possible savings that can be realized through this program falls between 30% and 70%, depending on the medication regimen, according to a Walgreens industry analysis. 

Would you like to pay one-third — or even more than two-thirds — less on your health care? Of course you would. But allocating additional points-of-care, including home delivery, so that the care is better accessible and more convenient in an environment without as much overhead? That's just not paying less. That's paying less and getting more. 

With this deal, Regence has just placed a point-of-care site, including the approximate 8,000 locations across the company's retail, clinic, hospital, employer and specialty pharmacies, within three miles of more than two-thirds of the U.S. population, so even Regence's covered members who happen to be on holiday or business trips are covered. 

The specialty pharmacy business "has transformed Walgreens from just the corner drug and store and acute care pharmacy to one with experts in some of the most complicated disease states out there, with the most expensive medicines and the most clinically challenging patients," Mike Ellis, Walgreens VP specialty pharmacy and infusion, told DSN has part of an extensive special issue on Walgreens. "Walgreens, with its collection of assets, has to be strongly considered as a third healthcare destination beyond the physician's office and the hospital," he added. Walgreens is already the nation's third-largest provider of specialty medications and the largest provider of home infusion services, Ellis noted to DSN in the September issue

And as many as 40% of those Walgreens locations serve medically underserved areas. Not only does that increase the breadth of locations now open to all Regence patients, but more accessible and more affordable care can easily translate into more adherent and greater compliance with the medicine regimen. 

That goes beyond the 30% to 70% in potential savings to the healthcare plan and, subsequently, the covered; that takes a bite out of the overall cost of health care. So, expect more partnerships like this. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is just around the corner. And that means a greater emphasis on results-oriented, outcomes-based medicine — where the name of the game becomes a strive toward zero hospital readmissions — is also just around the bend. 


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