October 4, 2022
Chief Transformation and Integration Officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.
Suzanne P. Clark
President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Through a global pandemic and the rising costs of health care, many Americans feel wary about the future of health care. However, industry leaders like Walgreens are reimagining the future of health care by prioritizing patients and relying on technology for automation and support.
Anita Allemand stepped in as the Chief Transformation and Integration Officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. last year to ensure alignment across all transformation activities and initiatives, with a special focus on coordination and alignment of digital efforts. In conversation with Suzanne Clark, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Allemand discussed Walgreens’ big-picture goals, strategic plan successes, and optimism about the future of health care in America.
Walgreens Has Big Picture Goals for the Future of Health Care
Allemand described Walgreens’ vision as leveraging its health care providers, pharmacists, clinicians, and technology to become the neighborhood health care destination.
“We think health care is very local,” Allemand stated. “Each neighborhood is different, right? So to be able to ensure that we become that neighborhood destination … the result is very simple: [it] will improve access to care, quality, and experience, and ultimately drive down costs in the overall health care ecosystem.“
To accomplish this goal, Allemand shared that Walgreens has pursued its key tenets of building partnerships in local areas and investment ownership in the company, CareCentrix.
As a post-acute and home care company, CareCentrix provides one of the most important aspects of that patient journey while creating a world where individuals who come out of the hospital can find healing and aid at home while expanding Walgreens’ capabilities.
An Early Pandemic Strategic Plan Proved Successful in Local Neighborhoods
Walgreens’ infrastructure strategic plan has seen early adoption in pilot programs — and demonstrated success during the pandemic. Infrastructure changes they’ve made and continue to pursue, include utilizing technology as a foundation for supporting and streamlining the pharmacy care model.
“Walgreens [is] one of the first pharmacies to leverage micro-fulfillment centers to drive efficiencies and cost savings in that last mile delivery of prescriptions,” said Allemand. “By removing some of the work from pharmacies, pharmacists get additional time to focus on providing patient care and clinical services.”
The micro-fulfillment centers also help take the pressure off the global health care labor shortage caused in part by COVID-19.
“I think through the pandemic we realized [three things]: the trusted role that pharmacists, pharmacies, technicians, and pharmacies played, that our pharmacists could and should be doing more to practice at the top of their license, and that we should ensure all the digital investment and enhancements would actually allow [our practitioners] to go into the community and have time to deliver services,” Allemand continued.
Walgreens Is Optimistic About the Future of Health Care in America
While the pandemic revealed stopgaps and supply chain issues in some industries, Allemand noted Walgreens's achievements during the pandemic as a signal for future success.
“It was really a validation that this model works,” she stated. “We've got the trust, we've got the engagement, we have the footprint and access. That gets me really excited knowing that we were able to do that [during the pandemic, and now] we're building upon it.”
Allemand added another reason that makes her optimistic about the changes Walgreens plans to make in the health care area: patients are ready for a different experience.
“Health care is fragmented; it's expensive; it's confusing and it's always been a different model,” she explained. “At WBA and Walgreens, we want to put the patients in the middle and say, ‘What is it that you need?’ ‘How can we make it personalized for you?’”