Guest Post: Walgreens Community Based Population Health Management: Targeted, Coordinated and Connected Care

As part of its ongoing efforts to transform community pharmacy, and recognizing the important role its pharmacists are positioned to play in healthcare today, Walgreens in January 2013 became the first retail pharmacy chain to gain CMS approval to operate Accountable Care Organizations in collaboration with three physician partners. The ACOs’ objective is to meet the triple aim of improving healthcare delivery and patient satisfaction while lowering total medical spend.

The current healthcare landscape has paved the way for Walgreens to expand its clinical services to meet the demands for greater access, convenience and affordable healthcare. Walgreens’ ability to help identify, manage and control health issues in the community complements physician care delivery to provide an extra level of care and the ability to coordinate care across the continuum.

Walgreens’ 8,100+ pharmacies, 400+ Healthcare Clinics and 70,000+ trusted health care providers deliver high quality, personalized services and comprehensive care in thousands of communities nationwide. Its retail pharmacy, infusion services, Healthcare Clinics, specialty pharmacy, employer-based health centers, and host of consumer, hospital and gap management programs offer a comprehensive and unique portfolio of healthcare services to support partners’ care models and patient population, while making Walgreens a strategic partner of choice for a growing number of hospitals, health systems and physician groups.

Health Care Reform offers new opportunities for Walgreens pharmacists to play a key role in integrated care teams and work collaboratively with physicians to provide patient centered care. When pharmacists have participated in integrated care teams, there have been reduced hospital readmissions, enhanced care coordination, improved medication adherence and improved outcomes. (Health Affairs, 2013)

The significant opportunities for population health management exist in collaboration between physicians and community providers, such as pharmacists and nurse practitioners. Walgreens community based population health management strategy extends the primary care driven care plan to leverage all of Walgreens nationwide health care assets in a targeted, coordinated and connected fashion.

The value of the community providers offers patients seamless and convenient access to high quality care that is coordinated with the original physician care plan. Where traditional care management focuses on the complex chronic patients only, Walgreens healthcare touch points provide patient engagement opportunities to maintain healthy behaviors, modify high risk behaviors, control chronic conditions, manage acute conditions, provide education for health delivery choice and reduce readmissions.
There is approximately $700B of waste in the American Healthcare system, with 33%-69% of hospital admissions resulting from poor medication adherence (IMS Health, 2013). By working collaboratively with other providers in the healthcare community, and introducing innovative programs and services that foster coordinated care to help meet the triple aim, we can have a significant impact on the nearly $213 billion cost to the U.S. healthcare system that comes from non-adherence to medications (IMS Health, 2013).

Walgreens medication therapy management and adherence programs provide patients with follow-up calls and full medication reviews. Patient engagement is key to success. Patients who are involved in care planning can better understand their options and can be accountable for their care. As more systems take more risk in the health care spectrum, Walgreens looks to partner with more integrated, risk-bearing entities to provide targeted, connected and coordinated approach to care delivery.

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Guest Blog Post Disclaimer CCA invites guest bloggers to post on Voice of Population Health Blog as a benefit for our members and the industry and to allow for exchange of ideas and information regarding population health. The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and/or of the company the author represents and do not represent those of the Care Continuum Alliance (CCA), its members, or the industry as a whole. CCA is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this guest post article. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author(s) and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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