Walgreens pursues provider status for pharmacists

Walgreens is on a mission to attain provider status for its pharmacists. 

An abundance of research has concluded that patients crave and care improves with broader scopes of practice for pharmacists. It's an uphill battle though as some organizations lobby against scope expansions. 

Walgreens, the nation's second largest pharmacy company (behind CVS), is going full steam ahead to grow job descriptions for its 26,000-some pharmacists. 

Mary Langowski, Walgreens Boots Alliance's executive vice president and U.S. healthcare president, said pharmacists are well positioned to take on extra duties and tackle obstacles made by workforce shortages. 

She raised the example of blood pressure screenings, reasoning that it makes more sense for pharmacists to take on this role than primary care physicians, who are already burnt out

"To the extent we can create better, faster, cheaper pharmacy operations, so that our pharmacists can do more and more and more, that's the ideal state," Ms. Langowski said at AHIP's 2024 conference in Las Vegas. 

Before this "ideal state" can come alive, advocates for expanding pharmacist scopes of practice have to first contend with regulatory and reimbursement constraints. Some organizations argue that physicians have more training in clinical settings than pharmacists, but Ms. Langowski said it isn't an either/or, but a both/and. 

"We want to partner with physicians," she said. "This is all totally complimentary to the rest of the activity that's going on in the healthcare system."

"There's a lot of old paradigms out there, and a lot of old regulatory regimes and a lot of entrenched interests that are making it difficult for us to make progress on that, but we're gonna keep fighting on it," Ms. Langowski said. "It's so important for us to kind of crack that open for pharmacists."

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