- Advocate Health Care will own and operate 56 Walgreens clinics starting in May, which will be branded as Advocate Clinic at Walgreens. The clinics will continue to offer walk-ins and same-day appointment scheduling.
- The sell-off is a move by Walgreens to streamline operations, according to the Chicago Tribune. Financial details of the partnership were not disclosed.
- Advocate Medical Group will hire and train board-certified nurse practitioners, initially hiring from employees at Walgreens' clinic locations.
This expands upon other arrangements between the two companies - Walgreens currently operates onsite pharmacy locations at three Advocate Health Hospitals and plans to expand to an additional three more in the near future.
Although Walgreens has close to 8,100 stores in the U.S., only about 400 have health clinics. This marks the second deal the company has made to outsource its clinical operations. Last August, Walgreens said Providence Health & Services, based in Seattle, plans to open up to 25 walk-in clinics within its stores. Walgreens is working to cut costs and by outsourcing its clinics, it will no longer have the pressure of making them profitable. This is important since the company announced its plans to acquire Rite-Aid and finalized its merger with Alliance Boots, a European retailer last year, as reported by Crains Chicago Business.
According to the Chicago Tribune, some physicians worry the clinics will substitute retail care for primary medical care and fragment healthcare. However, Walgreen's chief medical officers, Dr. Pat Carroll said, "We believe this approach will help ensure a true continuum of care for patients and their providers."
A study by Accenture estimates the number of retail health clinics will top 2,800 by 2017 with more than 10.8 million visits each year, translating to almost 4,000 patients per site. According to Crain's Chicago Business, those figures translate into more than 215,000 people using Walgreen's Chicago-area clinics every year.