Walgreens Boots Alliance chief executive Roz Brewer said the company’s multi-billion dollar push into primary care and post-acute services is designed to keep people healthy, engaged in their nutrition and from returning to the healthcare system.
Speaking at the 2021 Forbes Healthcare Summit Thursday morning, Brewer said the rollout out of hundreds of physician-staffed clinics attached to Walgreens drugstores as well as additional investments in post-acute and home care will “keep people from returning to the system of healthcare.”
In the months since Brewer became chief executive officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance, the iconic drugstore chain has invested another $5.2 billion in VillageMD to escalate the expansion of doctor-staffed clinics across the U.S. under a new “Walgreens Health” business.
“Imagine a day when 45% of our Walgreens stores – of the 9,100 stores that happen to be within five miles of 75% of the homes across the United States – where you can walk in and see a primary care physician that’s attached to a Walgreens drugstore,” Brewer said in an interview during the virtual event with Moira Forbes, President & Publisher, ForbesWomen and Executive Vice President of Forbes.
“And you come into this beautiful lobby and there are eight exam rooms with two physicians and a staff,” Brewer added. “And they can do the testing that you need that day when they take a blood sample or urinalysis and you can manage that right in the building and then walk over and get your script done. That’s our goal.”
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The investment gives Walgreens a 63% stake in VillageMD ahead of an initial public stock offering the primary care company plans next year. Walgreens previously had a 30% stake in VillageMD, a standalone company that landed a $1 billion investment from the drugstore giant last year.
As part of this new strategy, Brewer disclosed in October that Walgreens is making a $330 million investment in post acute and home care company CareCentrix, which will also be operated under Walgreens Health. The CareCentrix investment is for an initial 55% stake with an option to raise the stake in the future, Walgreens has said.
“If you believe in those wrap-around services and how they can make change happen in your lifestyle, I think it’s a game-changer,” Brewer told Forbes at Thursday’s summit. “That’s who we want to be. And that’s why our physical assets will be important to us.”
Brewer said such new “physical assets” along with a digital strategy to help patients adhere to their medications and follow medical care provider directives on nutrition and self-care will help improve health outcomes and reduce costs.
“The problem we are facing is access to good healthcare,” Brewer said. “But not only that, it’s to do it cost effectively.”