The largest U.S. drugstore chain plans to staff as many as 700 of its locations with primary care doctors within the next five years.
Walgreens, in partnership with Village MD, announced plans Wednesday to spread the clinics, branded as Village Medical at Walgreens, among more than 30 markets, The Wall Street Journal reported.
According to USA Today, more than half of the proposed 500 to 700 clinics will be placed in locations considered underserved by the medical community and marks the latest “evolution” in the drugstore sector’s enhanced focus on health care services versus retail floor space.
Walgreens operates nearly 9,300 locations across the United States.
Tim Barry, VillageMD’s co-founder and CEO, told the Journal the startup’s roughly 2,800-physician network has experienced a decrease in primary-care visits of between 15% and 20% since the novel coronavirus pandemic began, which has been far more manageable to date than the 40% drop experienced across the broader industry.
Executives from both companies told the Journal the deal was percolating before coronavirus.
The move also coincides with plans by Walgreens’ rival, CVS Health Corp., to open 1,500 health hubs by 2021, where patients would go to seek medicine, consultations and lab tests to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. On-site physicians are not included in the CVS model, the Journal reported.
Meanwhile, Walmart Inc. has already opened a handful of physician- and dentist-staffed clinics within some of its 4,700 U.S. stores, offering flat-fee primary care, such as $25 dental X-rays and $40 office visits, the Journal reported.
According to USA Today, Walgreens already operates about 230 walk-in clinics – down from roughly 400 – staffed by nurse practitioners or physician assistants that will remain open.
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