April 4—Walgreens in-store clinics will now diagnose and treat chronic conditions, making Walgreens the first retail chain to offer both chronic illness diagnosis and management. 

The expanded services, which are provided by nurse practitioners and physician assistants at more than 330 Walgreens in-store clinics, include assessment, treatment, and management of hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and asthma, Walgreens said in a release. Clinic providers can evaluate, recommend, and order preventive health services, such as screenings or lab tests, based on a patient’s age, gender, and family history.

Walgreens said it made the move to provide customers with expanded access to affordable health services and to bridge gaps in patient care, especially with the anticipated shortage of primary care physicians to handle the influx of new patients under healthcare reform. The company also continues to develop clinical affiliations with leading health systems, according to its announcement.

HFMA Analysis: Walgreens may intend to act as a care provider for the newly insured, who may not be able to find a traditional primary care practice. The move also expands possibilities for collaborations: Primary care providers coupled with pharmacists in retail clinics could work with acute care hospitals to reduce readmissions or better manage population health. Also, if this initiative is successful, Walgreens and other retail clinics may expand the model. If so, watch for them to become involved in state and federal legislation related to scope of practice.

Publication Date: Thursday, April 04, 2013