- MedExpress, an Optum company, and Walgreens Boots Alliance will launch a series of urgent care centers attached to Walgreens stores, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reported.
- Eleven adjoining urgent care centers have already opened in five markets: Virginia; West Virginia, Dallas, the Twin Cities and Omaha, Neb. Four more are slated for the Las Vegas area.
- Besides providing urgent care, the new centers offer employer healthcare services, MedExpress’ website notes.
The news comes on the heels of CVS Health’s $69 billion bid for health insurance giant Aetna and signals the industry’s continued shift toward decentralization. The CVS-Aetna deal, if approved, would create a $240 billion company second only to Walmart in the U.S. Many see it as an attempt to compete with UnitedHealth’s Optum unit, which has expanded its footprint this year with the purchase of Advisory Board Company’s healthcare unit, ambulatory surgery center chain Surgical Care Affiliates and Reliant Medical Group in Massachusetts.
Optum this week announced it is acquiring DaVita Medical Group for $4.9 billion. That deal, which includes nearly 300 primary and specialty care medical clinics, is expected to close next year.
Walgreens has 8,100 drugstores in the U.S. and close to 400 of them have retail clinics. In some cases, the pharmacy retail chain has opted to outsource its clinical operations. In February, it brought on Piedmont Healthcare to run 27 clinics in and around Atlanta. It also outsourced 56 clinics in the Chicago area to Advocate Health Care in January 2016.
These and other recent transactions are in part a response to payers pushing more care in outpatient settings to reduce costs.
“Care delivery is moving out of the acute care setting and into the community,” Steve Wiggins, founder and chairman of Remedy Partners, recently told Healthcare Dive. “Such a trend is responsive to consumer demands for fast, convenient access, and it offers the potential for higher volume and lower costs in specialized clinic settings.”