Walgreens is ready to take retail clinics a step further, with an announcement yesterday that the pharmacy chain will begin offering chronic care in addition to immunizations and acute care.
Walgreens’ Take Care Clinics will offer chronic care at its more than 330 Take Care locations, excluding clinics in Missouri, the company announced in a statement April 4. The chronic care services will include assessment, treatment, and management of conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, and more, in addition to preventive health services.
The company cites physician shortages coupled with the expected flood on newly insured Americans created by the Affordable Care Act in 2014, as well the growing patronage of retail clinics for its decision to expand. Walgreens cited a Rand Corp. study noting a 10-fold increase in the use of walk-in retail clinics over the past 2 years.
“With this service expansion, Take Care Clinics now provide the most comprehensive service offering within the retail clinic industry, and can play an even more valuable role in helping patients get, stay, and live well,” says Jeffrey Kang, MD, MPH, senior vice president of health and wellness services and solutions for Walgreens. “Through greater access to services and a broader focus on disease prevention and chronic condition management, our clinics can connect and work with physicians and other providers to better help support the increasing demands on our healthcare system today.”
Despite the move into a territory formerly dominated by primary care physicians (PCPs), Walgreen says it still encourages patients—one out of three of whom report not having a regular physician—to have a designated PCP and medical home for ongoing medical needs and routine exams. Walgreens says its Take Care Clinics are mean to work collaboratively with other providers and support and complement a patient’s physician care plan.
“Our goal is to coordinate with physicians...to help patients manage their chronic conditions in alignment with their physician’s treatment plan,” says Alan E. London, MD, chief medical officer of Walgreens’ Take Care Clinics. “Walgreens and Take Care Health also continue to develop clinical affiliations with leading health systems to coordinate patient care and to help meet the triple aim of improving health outcomes and patient satisfaction while reducing healthcare costs.”
Take Care Clinics offer walk-in and scheduled appointments 7 days a week with extended evening and weekend hours, and they accept most major insurance plans, Medicare, and Medicaid. The clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants.