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Walgreens leases 56 Chicago-area clinics to Advocate Health Care

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens and Advocate Health Care on Monday announced Advocate will operate the 56 Healthcare Clinics at Walgreens stores across the greater Chicagoland area. The retail clinics will function as part of Advocate and will be branded as Advocate Clinic at Walgreens, with the first clinic opening under the Advocate banner in May 2016.  
 
“Advocate Clinic at Walgreens expands Advocate's care delivery locations to provide more options for patients and meet the needs of consumers in an evolving health care environment,” stated Lee Sacks, Advocate’s chief medical officer and EVP. “With Walgreens’ unmatched footprint coupled with our leading clinical expertise and commitment to delivering high quality, affordable health care, more patients will have access to the best care when and where they need it.” 
 
For Walgreens, the agreement aligns with a two-pronged growth strategy for its retail clinics, which includes investing in its core business and expanding services to build a strong and viable model for future growth, while also developing deeper, more innovative approaches with health systems.
 
In August 2015, Walgreens and Providence Health & Services announced a strategic clinical collaboration aimed at coordinating patient care and improving patient access, which plans to bring up to 25 new retail clinics to Oregon and Washington. The clinics will be owned and operated by Providence and its affiliates, and were the first to open at Walgreens stores under a new collaborative services model. '
 
“Advocate shares our commitment to delivering extraordinary, personalized patient care, and is a nationally recognized health system that, like Walgreens, has been serving Chicagoland communities for more than 100 years,” said Pat Carroll, chief medical officer for Walgreens Healthcare Clinics. “We believe this approach will help ensure a true continuum of care for patients and their providers," he said. "This is also an emphasis for our Walgreens-managed clinics, where we continue to make investments, such as a new EHR platform, to offer patient benefits through a variety of convenient care options.”
 
Walgreens currently operates on-site pharmacy locations at three Advocate hospitals, with plans to expand to three more Advocate hospitals in the near future.   
 
Advocate Clinic at Walgreens will be staffed with board-certified nurse practitioners employed by, trained by and supervised by Advocate Medical Group. Advocate’s intention is to attempt to hire its initial workforce from among the employees currently working at Walgreens’ clinic locations.
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BY DSN STAFF

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12 for 2016: DSN’s New Year predictions

BY Rob Eder

As the nation’s health system continues to move from fee-for-service to a value-based model, community pharmacy will continue to move steadily from just a dispenser of prescriptions to more of a retail healthcare model, with a growing focus on pharmacy service and a growing reliance on the front-end of the store to drive profitability.

(Click here to view the full PDF and additional data.)

Here is a look at 12 trends DSN expects to see more of in 2016:

1. Pharmacy delivery apps
Thanks to technology, I don’t even have to wait on line at Starbucks anymore — I can click-and-collect my coffee, too.

In five years, no one is going to want to trudge to the drug store in the snow to pick up a prescription. And a number of start-ups are emerging — and looking for pharmacies to partner with — to make sure that consumers won’t have to.

By November, Zipdrug, which launched in July in New York City, was reporting that customer counts had doubled month after month, with a 35% repeat business rate. Zipdrug plans to explore new markets for entry in 2016.

Last month, Deliv announced a pilot program with Walgreens in 67 Dallas-area stores.

Expect a lot more activity on this front in 2016, as omnichannel health continues to evolve.

2. Wearables 2.0: Medical devices
According to Soreon Research, the wearable healthcare market is expected to grow from about $2 billion in 2014 to more than $41 billion in 2020. And while the first wave of devices focused more on fitness-tracking, the next generation of wearables will involve more clinically focused devices targeting chronic conditions.

Empatica, a company based in Cambridge, Mass., is working on a device worn on the wrist that alerts epileptics and their caregivers when the patient has had a seizure. The company also is working on a use for depression.

Meanwhile, Quell, an OTC electric nerve stimulation device worn on the calf to alleviate chronic pain, had just been named one of the 10 “Last Gadget Standing” finalists for the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show as this issue went to press.

3. Dialing up more telehealth
PricewaterhouseCoopers calls telemedicine 1-of-3 critical “deflating” factors that will help slow healthcare spending growth. In 2015, 24 states mandated that private payers cover telemedicine, according to the American Telemedicine Association, with more than 100 bills emerging in state houses across the country looking to further expand coverage for telehealth.

According to an analysis conducted by PwC, utilization of a telehealth model helped reduce costs by 9% among patients with diabetes.

And as much as omnichannel reflects changing consumer preferences and behavior, telehealth — and the widening adoption of it — reflects changing patient attitudes and preferences for how care is delivered. A survey of 1,700 CVS/ MinuteClinic patients who had received care via a telehealth platform found one-third actually preferred to receive care that way versus face-to-face with a clinician.

4. Retail clinics boom
Expect retail clinics to reach some 3,000 by next year. Driving that growth will be enhanced partnerships between retail clinic operators and large health systems, who will increasingly look to clinics to better manage site of care options and to partner to drive improved patient outcomes.

According to PwC, the number of consumers who used a retail clinic rose from about 10% in 2007 to 36% in 2015. Expect these numbers to rise further as the number of beneficiaries enrolled in high-deductible health plans soars in 2016 and beyond.

5. The mental health opportunity
Another area that will see increasing investment from payers, providers and community pharmacy will be in the area of mental health. One-in-5 U.S. adults suffers some form of mental health issue, including anxiety (42 million), depression (16 million) and bipolar disorder (6 million), costing employers about $440 billion annually.

CVS Health plans to add behavioral health to its Pharmacy Advisor clinical program, which identifies gaps in care and adherence.

This is another area where telehealth will play a role, as “more than half of all U.S. counties — all rural — have no practicing mental health clinicians,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

6. Consumer-directed health care ramps up
Influencing many of these trends is the continued growth of consumer-directed health plans.

According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2015 24% of all U.S. workers were enrolled in a high-deductible health plan with some type of HSA option. Further, research from PwC indicated that 44% of employers will consider offering only a high-deductible plan option in the next three years.

Why is that important? “Families in high-deductible plans use fewer brand-name drugs, pursue such low-cost venues as retail clinics and visit doctors less frequently,” according to a PwC Health Research Institute report.

7. The specialty pharmacy patent cliff
In 2015, the industry saw the first biosimilar introduction in the United States — Sandoz’s Zarxio. “At least four biosimilar applications are pending FDA review in 2016, with another 50 in the review process,” noted PwC in a recent report.

It is expected that over the next three years, specialty drugs with a combined market value of $19.5 billion will come off patent.

One issue — consumer awareness remains low. According to a 2015 survey from PwC’s Health Research Institute, 67% of consumers do not know what a biosimilar is.

8. Point-of-care testing gets to the point
Challenges of Theranos aside, you can expect community pharmacy to aggressively pursue point-of-care testing in 2016 and beyond.

Safeway proved the show can — and will — go on, when it signed a deal with Arizona-based Sonora Quest Laboratories in November to create two in-store labs in Phoenix-area Safeway stores.

9. Targeting hospital readmissions
Each year, 35 million patients are discharged from the hospital; 1-in-5 will be readmitted within 30 days, costing payers anywhere from $25 billion to as much as $44 billion a year, according to various estimates.

The top three reasons for readmission are all related to medication use: medication errors, adverse effects and, of course, nonadherence.

Expect more bedside medication reconciliation programs like Walgreens WellTransitions — Walgreens has shown a 46% reduction in re-hospitalizations as a result of the program — as well as a heightened focus on OTC products that help patients transition from hospital to home.

10. Education in the OTC aisle
As the business of dispensing prescriptions becomes more margin-compressed, pharmacy retailers will increasingly look to the front-end of the store for increased profitability.

One area that will continue to see more attention will be the OTC quadrant of the store, with a greater emphasis on product education in the aisles in categories where customer navigation and self-selection has always been tricky.

Look for more programs like the joint Johnson & Johnson/Rite Aid SEAL (See, Educate, At Last), which takes back space on the shelf to help consumers make informed decisions about product selection. In categories where SEAL was implemented, sales are up as much as 10%, according to Rite Aid.

11. Beauty gets a makeover
Another area drug chains will look to for growth is beauty.

Expect Walgreens to continue to bring more of its Boots mojo to its beauty offering — certainly, if its acquisition of Rite Aid is approved, upgrading the beauty offering will be a major opportunity in those stores.

And CVS will continue to push hard against beauty to help make up the loss of tobacco sales. CVS elevated the look of the department in 4,500 stores. The result? A 3.7% lift in beauty and personal care in the revamped stores.

12. More service in the aisles
From beauty to OTC, expect pharmacy retailers to continue to invest in more service in the aisles, including more beauty advisers and wellness guides to help guide product selection, improve customer conversion and drive more sales in the front-end of the store.

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