Despite the volatile business in healthcare with constant changes due to COVID-19, Walgreens has aimed to pursue the physician business along with establishing telehealth clinics and Walgreens care clinic as it partners with the provider of primary care doctor and practitioner services-VillageMD which may be risky but it has the potential to change the health care game for both the patients and the businesses of hospitals and practices. Village MD is a national leader in value-based primary care, hence well trusted to open up Walgreens care clinics. The plan is to open around 500 to 700 or even more Walgreens health care clinics that are physician-led in the markets of U.S. within the next five years. Walgreens has invested $1 billion in equity and convertible debt in VillageMD in the upcoming three years that is inclusive of $250 million equity investment completed earlier. VillageMD, a network with more than 2,800 prominent doctors, has had a 15% to 20% decrease in essential care visits in the midst of the pandemic, expressed Tim Barry, the startup’s CEO. He expressed the drop-off is substantially less outrageous than decreases of 40% or more across borders.
Promoting this new Walgreens doctor office venture is important for the Walgreens’ brand to transform from a drugstore into a more extensive wellbeing and health care entity. Walgreens and VillageMD executives have planned that the Walgreens medical centers and clinics will coordinate with the pharmacist as a prominent individual from the multidisciplinary group to convey the best healthcare to patients. The Walgreens health care clinics will be staffed by 3,600 primary care suppliers and doctors, whom VillageMD will enroll as per Dr.Fields. Dr. Clive Fields also discloses that Walgreens care clinic will be responsible for providing comprehensive preventive and wellbeing services. The services at the Walgreens health care clinic will include the treatment of intense infections and similar diseases, minor injuries, and the management of ongoing illnesses, which he notes is the category that influences the country’s healthcare framework the most. A major benefit of these specific Walgreens health care clinics is that care will be accessible by means of telehealth and at-home visits 24/7 which makes things extremely easy for patients who are based remotely or find it difficult to schedule appointments and visit a practitioner on a regular basis. There will be two doctors on staff accessible at the clinic at all times. Most of these Walgreens care clinics will be situated in Walgreens stores. Every clinic will be furnished with cutting edge technology and a thorough plan. The Village Medical at Walgreens care clinics will acknowledge and accept a wide scope of medical insurance choices as well. It is also noted that these Walgreens care clinics and similar models charge 80% lower prices than hospitals for the same healthcare services.
WALGREENS CARE CLINICS ENCOURAGE TELEHEALTH AND TELEMEDICINE
Walgreens health care clinics are likewise indicating an inclination to promote telehealth. Overall, an estimated 41%–42% of U.S. adults reported having delayed or avoided seeking care during the pandemic because of concerns about COVID-19, including 12% who reported having avoided seeking urgent or emergency care as per a recent study. Approximately 1,629,000 telehealth appointments were made in the first 3 months of 2020 also known as the early pandemic time frame, compared with approximately 1,084,000 appointments during the same time in 2019 (an increase of 50% overall). This activity works well with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that urges suppliers to address clinical requirements by means of telehealth, while likewise supporting physical or social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19.
ARE WALGREENS CARE CLINICS SOMETHING TO WORRY ABOUT?
Public pharmacy stores and chains are advancing to meet ever-changing buyer needs as it is quite visible by the steps Walgreens care clinics have taken. Yet, as companies related to the healthcare arena keep on innovating, there is worry among certain doctors, practitioners, and patients that the complete amalgamation of clinical practices and pharmacies such as CVS or Walgreens could be dangerous. Dr. Amy Townsend, a patient supporter and a member of the board from Physicians for Patient Protection, along with being a representative to the Texas Medical Association, says the Walgreens plan could mean a more corporate and profit oriented approach to deal with wellbeing and health care by creating financial irreconcilable situations for doctors at the Walgreens doctor office that could adversely influence the patients.
It is also obvious that Walgreens care clinics will have doctors working for a private entity, an organization that is attached to a drug store. There is a great deal of cash engaged with these vertical mixes inside healthcare which can put the patients in danger, hence it is important to consider how will the Walgreens medical centers and similar entities like CVS and Amazon will shape the future of health care. We need to ensure that when we move these components together, doctors will still actually have full self-sufficiency to treat and recommend what is to the greatest advantage of patients, as opposed to what is useful for the organization’s profit making model. Dr. Fields assured and confirmed that the doctors at Walgreens care clinics will be given full control to make the right decision for their patients regardless of whether it includes any benefit for Walgreens or not, however, the question of how he will make sure that happens at the Walgreens doctor offices still remains.
THE IMPACT OF WALGREENS CARE CLINICS ON YOUR PRACTICE
Walgreens’ doctor clinics model is an approach to draw in more patients into their stores and that is bad news for practices and hospitals along with other healthcare frameworks. There is a danger from Walgreens’ health care clinics as clinical care suppliers move away from fee for services administered medicine to value-based care and cheaper outpatient services. As the revenues for Walgreens care clinics increase, it will directly affect the revenues of other practitioners and reduce the pool of patients along with talent due to the constant recruitment of physicians by Walgreens and VillageMD. The market share of Walgreens care clinics was 24% in 2015 and it clearly has increased with time as they have launched their new services and business model.
Dr. Atreja feels that Walgreens care clinics are useful for healthcare and it depends on the perspective of the practice and hospitals whether they find the impact of these clinics negative or positive. From a healthcare viewpoint and from a customer decision and patient’s admittance to care point of view, this unquestionably is a decent model for these associations to have health centers especially when we factor in the pandemic and its effects on the general population.
Kenneth Kaufman says that models like Walgreens doctor offices should be of genuine worry for the legacy of practitioners and hospitals since those suppliers have involved that front entryway for as far back as 75 years and they should be considered rivals without taking models like these lightly. With COVID-19 looming on everyone’s heads, numerous Americans have been very careful about heading off to the practitioner’s clinic for in-person care, huge drugstore chains and retailers are seeing an open door for new patients for their in-store clinics like the Walgreens doctor’s offices. Kulleni Gebreyes, a head and doctor pioneer at Deloitte says Walgreens care clinics have not seen a drop in patient volumes since the pandemic started in mid-March. Communities of practitioners are still iffy about it as the clinics are conceivably undermining the importance of primary care but for the patients, they are the best thing at this uncertain time.
There is no denying the fact that Walgreens care clinics is a convenient choice for individuals who do not have insurance, are in a hurry, or do not have the patience to deal with all the processes which come with booking an appointment to an actual practitioner. But these Walgreens doctor offices are giving genuine competition to autonomous and private clinical practices like yours. The quick and convenient services they offer are pulling in numerous patients, even those with insurance plans set in place, and clearly upsetting the patient-doctor relationship at your own practice.
There are several steps your practice can take to ensure that your patients do not choose models like Walgreens care clinics over your practice.
- Broaden your normal business hours. Most patients who make a Walgreens health care clinic visit do as such because of the inaccessibility of their primary care doctor or family doctor.
- Lower the prices of your services to match the charges of Walgreens medical offices for minor wounds or issues.
- Make the appointment planning processes simpler for patients by giving them self-service and registrations capacities. Utilize software to schedule patient appointments, appointment update software and services, or patient entryway software to allow patients to plan or reschedule appointments all on their own, which will also reduce the burden on your front medical office staff.
- Offer telehealth services to analyze and treat patients remotely over video calls, live visits, telephones, and so on. Telehealth services will increase your practices’ patient admittance rate to clinical care and marginally reduce the healthcare costs for practitioners like you.
- Instruct your patients about the advantages of one-on-one essential care over quick assistance Walgreens care clinics and the importance of knowing your patient.