CVS – Northwell, Walgreens announce ‘strategic affiliation’
By GREGORY ZELLER //
New York State’s largest healthcare provider and one of the nation’s largest pharmacy chains are joining forces.
New Hyde Park-based Northwell Health, which boasts more practitioners and patients than any other New York health system, and Illinois-based Walgreens Co. – which counts 9,024 national stores, trailing only rival CVS Health’s 9,968 stories – announced Thursday a new “strategic affiliation” including enhanced telehealth services, prescription benefits and, possibly, new retail-level clinics.
Ultimately, the partnership is aimed at improving the health of regional populations and “advancing health equity throughout New York State,” according to a joint statement.
Walgreens also trails only CVS in total sales, $109 billion to $84.3 billion – which is nearly double the next nearest competitor, according to reported 2019 revenue. Expect that second-place total to grow fast, however, now that the major-league pharmacy is providing access to Northwell telehealth providers on its New York-based Walgreens Find Care digital platform.
The pharmacy chain and Northwell are also exploring a “retail health-clinic collaboration at select … store locations throughout the tri-state area,” with a focus on “underserved communities,” the two companies said.
Additionally, since Sept. 1, Northwell employees have been able to fill non-specialty prescriptions at Walgreens’ 564 New York pharmacies. But customers and patients will derive the greatest benefits from what was announced as a five-year collaboration, according to Northwell Health Chief Operating Officer and President of Strategic Initiatives Mark Solazzo, who trumpeted enhanced healthcare access, quality, equity and efficiency.
“We are very excited to partner with Walgreens to improve health, improve care and reduce costs through collaborative and innovative opportunities,” Solazzo said Thursday. “This affiliation agreement strengthens our resolve and mutual commitment toward community health equity.”
A prime example is the newly expanded Walgreens Find Care platform, through which community members can now remotely access Northwell-based emergency-care and pediatric services.
While the strategic affiliation is new, Northwell and Walgreens are of course familiar with each other. In addition to being the biggest fish in their respective ponds, the healthcare provider and the pharmacy chain strengthened their bond during the coronavirus crisis, noted Deb Salas-Lopez, Northwell’s senior vice president of community and population health.
“Northwell Health and Walgreens worked together during the peak of the pandemic to offer COVID-19 vaccines to vulnerable community members,” Salas-Lopez said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to build on our relationship.”