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Walgreens Health Corners network swells with new Buckeye partnership in Ohio

Walgreens Health Corners network swells with new Buckeye partnership in Ohio

Dive Brief:

  • Walgreens has partnered with managed care company Buckeye Health Plan in Ohio to open new Health Corner locations in five of the state’s northeast neighborhoods this summer.
  • Buckeye is the third payer to launch Walgreens Health Corner locations, community clinics meant to supplement care received from primary care and specialty physicians.
  • About 2.3 million patients will have access to Health Corner services across 60 locations in Ohio, California and New Jersey by the summer’s end, Walgreens said on Tuesday. By the end of this year, Walgreens expects to increase the number of Health Corners from 55 to about 100, including the new Ohio locations.

Dive Insight:

Through the Buckeye partnership, the new Health Corners will offer eligible Ohio Medicaid members access to integrated care led by Health Advisors, who are pharmacists or registered nurses.

Services revolve around preventive care, wellness checks and assistance with managing chronic conditions, including health screenings like blood pressure checks, scheduling mammography appointments or answering general health questions or concerns about medications.

In northeast Ohio, the services will be available for free for Buckeye members, Walgreens said. The company will share patient services and outcomes with Buckeye and patients’ other providers.

The new partnership follows a Walgreens Pharmacy pilot program with Buckeye in 2021 centered on asthma and COPD patients, where Buckeye reimbursed Walgreens pharmacists for counseling patients on how to use their inhalers, identifying and providing outreach to nonadherent patients and more.

The retail pharmacy company launched Walgreens Health, a division for its healthcare assets including value-based medical network VillageMD and home care provider CareCentrix, in October. The goal of Walgreens Health is to develop consumer-focused and tech-enabled healthcare products.

Walgreens has been investing in building out the division.

Late last year, the company doubled its ownership stake in VillageMD with an additional investment of $5.2 billion. It also invested $330 million in home care provider CareCentrix and funneled another $970 million into specialty pharmacy company Shields Health Solutions.

In an October call with investors, management said they plan to expand their health and wellness services and are willing to take on risk-based contracts.

The co-branded Walgreens and VillageMD clinics, along with the Health Corner concept, are central to this effort, as Walgreens — like its retail pharmacy rivals CVS Health and Walmart — looks to capture a greater slice of the care continuum and the corresponding revenue.

Last week, Walgreens announced the launch of a clinical trials business. Ramita Tandon, the chief clinical trials officer, said in a statement that the new division is “yet another way we are building our next growth engine of consumer-centric healthcare solutions.”