PRIMARY CARE IS COMING TO A RETAIL CLINIC NEAR YOU! It may not happen overnight, but it will happen. Walgreens Boots Alliance just announced its goal of building 1,000 primary care clinics at its retail pharmacies by 2027. CVS and Walmart have similar plans.
These plans were announced last week, when Walgreens disclosed that it would spend $5.2 billion to acquire a 63% interest to become the majority owner of VillageMD. Founded in 2013 in Chicago, VillageMD has already opened 52 primary-care clinic locations at Walgreens stores and may have 33 more such clinics up and running by year’s end.
CVS Pharmacy, Inc., (which owns Aetna, the health insurance company), has opened 1,100 HealthHUBs in its retail pharmacies and plans to expand this service into nearly all of its 9,967 locations.
Similarly, Walmart is building primary care clinics as part of its superstores. It has 20 such clinics in operation and 22 more clinics are under construction.
The trend of putting full-service primary care clinics in retail pharmacies is a significant development for the clinical laboratory industry. These clinics will need clinical laboratory testing and can be expected to shift patients away from traditional medical clinic sites for two reasons—lower price and convenience—since they will be located around the corner from where people live and work.
For these reasons health system lab outreach programs will want to develop strategies to serve this new type of primary care service provider. It would be timely to study this trend, since Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart are already expanding their respective networks of clinics.
In its press release about its $5.2B investment in VillageMD, Walgreens included this photo showing how the VillageMD primary care clinic can be incorporated into existing Walgreens retail pharmacy stores. Lab testing will be one service offered at these sites.