The Rise of Retail Healthcare: Unlocking Better Care, Expanded Access, and Improved Community Outcomes
We recently had the honor of hosting a webinar in partnership with Fierce Healthcare on “The Rise of Retail Healthcare: Unlocking Better Care, Expanded Access, and Improved Community Outcomes.” The panelists for this discussion were Anita Allemand, Chief Transformation and Integration Officer, Walgreens; Adam Myers, former Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Transformation Office, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association; and moderated by Curt Vinyard, Senior Vice President Payer, ixlayer. We’ll explore the insights and unique perspectives shared by these industry experts in our blog recap below.
The Transformation of Healthcare
The healthcare industry witnessed significant changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Adam kicked off the webinar by highlighting there was a larger focus on community and bringing care outside of the traditional walls of healthcare and into the home. The shift towards virtual care and increase in the volume of virtual visits showed that consumers and healthcare providers became more comfortable with it. Virtual care expanded beyond primary care and urgent care to include behavioral health and much more, providing accessible and convenient options for patients.
We saw a big leap in its utilization and with mental health for example, the use of virtual care remains elevated over pre-pandemic levels, but it has dipped from its height during the pandemic. It provides us with an opportunity to step back and really understand that at-home care solutions are important. Currently, some of the long standing challenges are getting people to visit their primary care provider, medication adherence to manage their conditions and ensuring they get the care they need, when they need it. However, these traditional methods are becoming more daunting and disjointed. How can we overcome these challenges? Increasingly more care will be both in the community and at home. And the key to that is to focus on convenience. By meeting consumers and patients where they already are in their day to day lives, whether it’s a retail pharmacy, a physician’s office or in the home – it comes down to convenience and accessibility.
Anita discussed how the company is transforming Walgreens into a destination for local healthcare services. She believes that creating a connected ecosystem and removing some of these barriers will help leverage virtual care and remote testing. Through partnerships and investments, Walgreens has expanded its services to include wellness and prevention, chronic disease management, specialty services, and post-acute care. By connecting these services in a holistic ecosystem, Walgreens aims to provide accessible, convenient, and personalized care to communities.
The Role of Remote Diagnostic Testing
Curt emphasized the importance of remote diagnostic testing in the evolving healthcare landscape. ixlayer automates and streamlines remote diagnostic testing programs, making them accessible and affordable. Remote diagnostic testing has become a crucial aspect of healthcare delivery, enabling patients to perform diagnostic tests at home, in the workplace, or in alternative care settings.
Adam shared his experience with remote monitoring programs, which utilize connected devices to gather objective data from patients’ homes. These programs have proven effective in improving chronic disease management, reducing hospitalizations, and providing personalized care. By integrating remote monitoring and diagnostic testing, healthcare providers can gain valuable insights and take proactive measures to prevent complications.
Improving Access for Hard-to-Reach Populations
Delivering local community care is really the foundation of Walgreens’ approach. Anita shared an example of a partnership with a health plan, to truly be an extension of their solutions based on the healthcare needs of each community. The company works with a number of health plans covering Medicare and Medicaid to introduce local health care into the communities and really serve as that connective tissue. Walgreens has more than 100 Health Corners, staffed by health advisors who are specially trained to support patients. Last year they partnered with a health plan and reached out to around tens of thousands of members to educate them and make sure they were getting their colorectal cancer screening. As part of the program, members could come into a Walgreens pharmacy location to pick up an at-home screening kit or opt to receive one in the mail. They could complete their screening at home, or if it was available in their area, schedule an in-home visit with a healthcare professional to walk them through how to take the test. The members received reminders and communication to complete their kit and return them. This is just one example of a particular payer program that was able to close that gap in care.
An important aspect discussed during the panel was reaching traditionally difficult-to-reach populations, including those in dense urban areas and remote parts of the country. Walgreens has implemented strategies to address this challenge, such as partnering with local organizations, leveraging their extensive pharmacy network, and utilizing buses to bring healthcare services directly to communities. By overcoming barriers to access, Walgreens aims to ensure that healthcare services are available to all, regardless of their location.
Adam shared an example of providing care to a population of elderly patients through in-home care and remote monitoring. By using connected devices and virtual communication, healthcare providers were able to deliver personalized care, reduce hospitalizations, and improve outcomes. This approach demonstrates how technology and innovative care models can bridge the gap and reach patients who would otherwise face difficulties accessing traditional healthcare settings.
Harnessing the Power of Data and Analytics
As the healthcare industry becomes increasingly data-rich, it is essential to effectively utilize the collected data to drive meaningful change. Adam emphasized the need for advanced analytics and decision-making algorithms to process and interpret the data. By leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning, healthcare providers can gain actionable insights and make informed decisions to deliver personalized care and interventions.
Anita highlighted the importance of turning data into actionable insights and personalizing interventions based on individual needs. The goal is to create a connected ecosystem that leverages data and analytics to drive better outcomes and engage patients effectively.
Through virtual care, remote diagnostic testing, and innovative care models, healthcare providers and retail pharmacy providers are collaborating to deliver patient-centric care. By leveraging technology, data, and partnerships, the industry is overcoming barriers to access and reaching traditionally underserved populations. The future of healthcare holds great potential for personalized, accessible, and convenient care, driving better health outcomes for communities.