Novant Health leaders talk Walgreens partnership goals for 2020

Novant Health's Oct. 1 announcement that it will open retail health clinics in several Walgreens pharmacies in North Carolina comes amid a stream of retailers taking on healthcare.

The 15-hospital system, headquartered in Winston-Salem, said the retail clinics will be staffed with Novant Health physician assistants and nurse practitioners who will treat common illnesses and injuries and offer chronic care follow-ups. Walgreens also will acquire nine Novant Health retail pharmacies.

Here, Pam Oliver, MD, president of Novant Health Physician Network, and Cedric Terrell, senior vice president of pharmacy for Novant Health, discuss the Walgreens partnership as well as the potential effects of other major retailers such as Walmart and Amazon moving into the healthcare space.

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for length and clarity. 

Question: What prompted Novant Health to consider the Walgreens partnership?

Pam Oliver: This partnership with Walgreens is really about our commitment to making healthcare more convenient, accessible, affordable for not only our patients but also for our team members. The retail healthcare clinic collaboration is also about giving patients options about how they can get healthcare [and] stay well, depending on what their needs are. From a global perspective, this collaboration will allow us to quickly scale our patient access for and to high-quality cost-effective pharmacy services and clinical care. It aligns with our overall growth strategy and how we are thinking through developing our clinics in the future to not be just the traditional bricks-and-mortar strategy.

Q: What are the primary goals behind the partnership?

PO: Access points to improve our attachment to and capture of patients and consumers within our market. We also hope it will help us deliver on our population health objective, and for pharmacy, to enhance our speed to value for pharmacy and services. This is a way that can be both cost-efficient and scalable.

Q: What is the timeline for the partnership?

PO: Walgreens will assume ownership of all Novant Health nonspecialty retail and mail-order pharmacies within the next 60 days. Our specialty pharmacy will continue to be operated by Novant Health. We expect that the first retail clinics will be online and seeing patients in the first half of 2020.

Q: How do you think efforts by major retailers like Walgreens, Walmart and Amazon will ramp up the demand for healthcare talent? 

PO: I think for anyone working in healthcare, these new models and collaborations may offer just more choice. We continue to see, and as news has shown, shortages of primary care physicians, nurses and many others that are needed to support our healthcare system. And we know as others enter [healthcare], we will compete for talent.

There is more choice on the side of the providers. We have a large medical group, so we think we have a competitive advantage because of the resources we have committed to addressing burnout and making this the most attractive place to work. The team member experience has been part of our mission, vision and values consistently as we gauge how our team members feel about being employed or working as part of Novant Health. We see they also value being part of the system and validate we are committed to having an inclusive team. I think we are positioned well in the competition for talent, but there will be more competition as people have more options that didn't exist previously.

Cedric Terrell: At Novant we moved to residency-trained pharmacists about two years ago. You had to be residency-trained or have at least about two to three years of experience in a particular area for the new hires. Also, with our workforce development with our [pharmacy] technicians, we set a tier process so our technicians could take on more of the operational or dispensary roles as our pharmacists move closer to the patient touchpoints. Whether they're prescribing or they're making interventions at Novant Health, what I see is more specialization of that, and so as we bring on new team members, we continue to develop them in more of the specialty and subspecialty space. And then probably on a broader scale externally to Novant, you're going to see the same thing as the workforce changes with these new care delivery models.

Q: Which major corporations do you think will be next to offer their own healthcare? 

PO: I think it's important to acknowledge that every major employer is looking for ways to have more affordable and accessible healthcare for their team members. And healthcare organizations are looking beyond traditional mergers and acquisitions to gain new services and skills for our patients' needs both now and in the future. Partnerships aren't a market differentiator anymore. It's been more of the norm. Walmart [and] Amazon are entering into what we would consider nontraditional partnerships. We see great potential in collaborating with companies that would traditionally be seen as competitors because we think that is the model to drive high quality and more efficient care. And we also think that it's a way to produce savings on the healthcare side that will help us to reinvest in our communities and in our public health efforts in our communities. I don't have a healthcare corporation in mind as the next, but I do think that is the norm.

CT: That's hard to call. As you look at it, the major players are the ones to be focused on as the disruption [in healthcare] continues. The point of the matter is to bring services closer to consumers', customers' and patients' home[s]. As we continue to look at ways to do that, you're going to have the digitalization of therapy as well as digitization of pharmaceuticals. That’s truly a new approach to management of a patient population. I think the major players is now the norm, but with that is going to be some refinement, and probably some new goals, that develop.


Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars