Blue Shield of California and Walgreens team up to offer community-based care

Blue Shield of California and Walgreens are teaming up to offer healthcare services to Blue Shield commercial members aimed at improving condition management and delivering whole-person care, according to a news release on Friday.

Eligible Blue Shield beneficiaries will be able to get blood pressure screenings, blood tests to diagnose diabetes, mammography care coordination and other services through Walgreens’ Health Corner locations. Pharmacists, dieticians or nurses are available at each site to offer health, nutrition and disease management help and advice to members.

The program kicks off later this year and will offer in-store, at-home and virtual care to eligible Blue Shield beneficiaries by early 2022.

“Walgreens is excited to join forces with Blue Shield of California for this community health effort,” Vish Sankaran, Walgreens Boots Alliance chief innovation officer, said in a news release. “By leveraging our trusted retail pharmacy locations, deep healthcare experience, and community relationships, together we are uniquely positioned to bridge gaps in care for many Californians to create a more seamless and convenient consumer experience.”

Insurers and retailers have partnered to deliver high-touch, community-based care, especially in the Medicare Advantage market. The strategy could help insurers curb healthcare costs and improve outcomes by preventing their members from getting seriously ill and provide retailers with a new revenue stream at the same time.

Walgreens has enmeshed itself in a wide range of partnerships as it attempts to grow its healthcare and retail empire, joining forces with insurers and investing $1 billion in VillageMD, a Chicago-based primary care startup. The drugstore giant began piloting the Health Corner concept in Knoxville and Memphis, Tennessee in January 2020.

Disrupting healthcare will require disrupting the traditional doctor-patient relationship, said Matt Wolf, director and healthcare senior analyst at RSM. More healthcare organizations, including payers, will continue to experiment with new models as more reimbursement becomes at-risk and healthcare services become more expensive, he said.

“I’m not aware of anything they’ve done at this scale,” Wolf said. “California is huge.”


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