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Best Buy, Walgreens growing their primary care, home health offerings

Article

They add to recent primary care expansions by Amazon, Walmart.

Best Buy and Walgreens are the latest nationally known retailers to continue the expansion of primary care and home care offerings.

On March 7, Best Buy Health and Atrium Health announced they “are combining their strengths” to offer hospital at home services that deliver high quality care while reducing emotional and financial burdens on patients and caregivers. The companies said Atrium Health’s abilities in telemedicine and patient population of almost 3 million people will align with Best Buy’s technical expertise, logistics, and locations across North America. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Best Buy is the world’s largest specialty consumer electronics retailer, with more than 90,000 employees in almost 1,000 stores in North America.

“We knew Atrium Health was the right partner to help tackle the unique challenges within the care at home experience,” Best Buy Health President Deborah Di Sanzo said in a news release. The company brings expertise in “omnichannel, supply chain, Caring Center support and services, in-home support,” and connections with patients and providers through Best Buy Health’s Current Health care at home platform, Di Sanzo said.

“Those strengths, combined with Atrium Health’s extensive clinical expertise and deep experience leading in virtual care, will help us improve and enable care in the home for everyone,” Di Sanzo said.

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Atrium Health has 70,000 workers at 40 hospitals and more than 1,400 care locations. It is part of Advocate Health, the fifth-largest nonprofit health system in the United States, according to its corporate information.

The partnership will change the lives of patients and consumers with tools and experience to receive care at home, Dr. Rasu Shrestha, MD, MBA, chief innovation and commercialization officer at Advocate Health, said in the news release.

“Our surveys show high levels of patient satisfaction for our hospital at home experience and the use of virtual care is a valuable tool in our efforts to eradicate both economic and geographic disparities in accessing health care services,” Shrestha said. “Together with Best Buy Health, we will combine our strengths to provide better outcomes and equitable access for patients who will receive their care in the home. This will also allow for a more successful and seamless process for the providers caring for them.”

Walgreens growing

Village MD, the primary care and health care company with majority ownership by Walgreens Boots Alliance, this month announced it has acquired Starling Physicians. That primary care and specialty practice offers cardiology, ophthalmology, endocrinology, nephrology, and geriatric care at more than 30 locations in Connecticut.

“Starling shares our vision of being a physician-led model and they provide care in a compassionate and exceptional way to all the patients they serve,” VillageMD CEO and Chair Tim Barry said in a news release. “By integrating primary care with specialty care, we are able to optimize access to high-quality care for our patients. Together, we are transforming the way health care is delivered in the United States.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although Walgreens publicly has announced its multi-billion-dollar investments in primary care clinics in recent years. In 2021, the company announced its intention to open at least 600 “Village Medical at Walgreens” primary care clinics in more than 30 U.S. markets over four years.

“The value-based care delivery model, coupled with our broad multi-specialty healthcare platform, will result in improved clinical outcomes for our patients and healthier local communities, while lowering the cost of care, Starling Finance Committee Chair Christopher Russo, MD, said in a news release. “VillageMD has had notable and repeated success delivering cost-effective high-quality care in a variety of markets and was the natural partner for Starling to realize this transformational vision in Connecticut.”

All in primary care

The Best Buy and Walgreens announcements came just days after two other large businesses declared their intentions to expand in primary care.

This month, retail giant Walmart announced it will add at least 28 new health centers in Texas, Arizona, and Missouri, for a total of at least 75 Walmart Health center offering primary care by the end of 2024.

Walmart’s announcement also came days after online giant Amazon announced in February it completed its $3.9 billion acquisition of One Medical, with the goal of changing primary care.

Describing their offerings, Amazon and One Medical said they will offer round-the-clock access to primary care through the One Medical app, 24/7 video chats and easy in-app messaging, same-day and next-day in-office visits and availability where people work, live, and shop. One Medical said the company will have pediatricians and family care providers in a growing number of locations, and “highly engaged clinicians focused on meeting the whole needs of people.”

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