Walgreens recently announced that it will be the first national pharmacy chain to enter the primary care market in full-scale. Partnering with VillageMD, the pharmacy chain will open 500-700 full-service primary care clinics in more than 30 U.S. markets during the next five years. It is likely that the partnership will scale up from there (think the Starbucks of primary care).
VillageMD and Walgreens Partnership
VillageMD will recruit more than 3,600 primary-care providers under its partnership with Walgreens. Walgreens indicated that half of the clinics will be located in areas where the federal government has designated as having a shortage of primary care providers.
The fact that more primary care clinics will open in underserved communities is a boon to be sure. But the pressure on solo or small doctors owned practices- now competing with large scale private equity joint ventures as well as an ever-changing payor landscape- continues. With that said, there is always an opportunity for healthcare providers to compete with the “big boys.” While the partnership between VillageMD and Walgreens provides large scale competition, there is a segment of the patient population that will always seek out a long term patient-doctor relationship. The type of relationships that are more readily available by solo or small group practices rather than the revolving door of associates found in large corporate practice. To survive, solo and small group practices in any healthcare sector will have to market these benefits while also considering a change in how they practice, such as a consider based practice model.