In the heels of discussions in this blog that pharmacy-based health care has a bright future (for example, see link, link), comes news that pharmacies are experimenting with partnerships with health organizations. For example, Walgreens is partnering with Johns Hopkins to create a retail hub for community-based care and CVS recently announced a partnership with Parkridge Health System to run seven clinics near Chattanooga,TN.
The partnership between Walgreens and Johns Hopkins draws from the strengths of both entities and will have a large selection of healthy foods, expanded hours, connections to the Hopkins physicians for urgent, non-emergency care, and will be a place to develop and examine new health care programs. If these collaborations work, the role of pharmacies in retail stores is poised to change completely thereby transforming health-care delivery especially for non-critical cases.
The motive for retail pharmacies to get into the health care business is obvious. In general, retailers face an existential crisis in their future due to online retailing and pharmacy-based care is a great way to drive traffic to stores.
Why would health care organizations partner with pharmacies? Health-care delivery especially for less critical cases is not convenient for consumers. Traditional clinics treat all ailments with a one-size fits all approach thereby increasing complexity and raising costs. Pharmacy-based health care only focuses on non-critical cases, and adds that critical dimension of adding convenience (location, operating hours etc.) along with lowered prices. More importantly, health organizations will oversee the quality of care in these clinics, and will treat the patient who needs a level of care that cannot be provided by retail clinics thereby ensuring a comprehensive continuum of care at high quality. With the numbers of patients set to explode with the implementation of the Affordable HealthCare Act, this new business model is a welcome addition to the medical landscape.
Professor of Business Administration and
James F. Towey Faculty Fellow and
Executive MBA Academic Director