Walgreens is making some big moves as they’re trying to cut costs, boost revenue, and grow their footprint nationwide — and they’re doing it by going big, and by going small.

The drugstore chain announced that they’re bringing primary care doctors into existing stores as well as building new smaller, pharmacy-centered stores.

Here’s what you need to know:

 

Walgreens will open up to 700 in-store physician-led clinics by 2025.

Following successful pilot tests in the Houston area, Walgreens and primary care clinic company VillageMD announced a partnership that will open 500-700 “Village Medical at Walgreens” in-store clinics over the next five years in more than 30 metro areas nationwide.

It’ll be a one-stop shop, where customers can see a primary care doctor and a pharmacist — plus pick up needed prescriptions — in one visit. And after hours, customers will have access to 24/7 telehealth appointments.

More than half the clinics will open in areas the government has identified as medically underserved.

 

Smaller, pharmacy-only Walgreens stores are also in development.

The bulk of Walgreens’ revenue comes from pharmacy sales, and as the chain looks to cut costs, boost revenue, and grow their territory, they’re developing 30-40 pharmacy-only stores.

Walgreens executives said 20 of the smaller Walgreens stores are now open, with 10-20 more under construction or otherwise in development.

These stores won’t have a grocery section, but instead will focus on pharmacy, over-the-counter healthcare products, and pickup options.

 

Walgreens will have to remove some retail items as they reconfigure hundreds of stores.

The smaller-format stores, which will be around 2,000 square feet in size, won’t have room for the grocery and retail items standard Walgreens sell.

And in the clinic-format stores, Walgreens execs said they’ll be removing some retail areas to make room for the new 3,300-9,000 square foot clinics. Although they didn’t say which products would be affected, Walgreens said clinic-format stores would be more focused on health-and-wellness-related items.

The 700 clinic-format stores would only represent about 8% of all Walgreens stores nationwide.

 

 

Clinic costs appear to be on the low end, at least when it comes to virtual appointments.

Not much is advertised about Village Medical’s fees for care, but the company has published that out-of-pocket costs for virtual appointments start at $59. (Insured patients pay their typical copays.)

We compared a bunch of different telehealth providers, and virtual appointments ranged from $49-$75. Most of the providers were more expensive.

 

CVS is racing to open in-store clinics in 15% of their stores.

Successful pilot testing of health services-focused CVS stores, called CVS HealthHub, has led to that company’s plan to open 1,500 of these stores (about 15% of total CVS locations) by the end of 2021.

CVS Health’s MinuteClinics — which have been around for years, and are inside HealthHubs — don’t have doctors like the Walgreens clinics, but rather are staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Something CVS has that Walgreens doesn’t? An entire health insurance company. They purchased Aetna in 2018.

 

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