Walgreens Expands Healthcare Reach With New Partnership

The healthcare deal aims to help Walgreens grow its community-based primary care services.

Three bags of prescriptions in a blue basket
(Image credit: Peter Dazeley, Getty Images)

Walgreens is expanding further into value-based healthcare by partnering with Pearl Health, a startup technology firm and the retail pharmacy’s latest initiative to grow its community-based primary care services.

Pearl is focused on primary care physicians transitioning away from fee-for-service compensation to value-based payments with the aim of reducing the total cost of care. The tech firm promotes Accountable Care Organization Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health (ACO REACH), an alternative payment model from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) that encourages doctors to make the transition to value-based payments.

Walgreens said it will provide complementary services to Pearl, including prescription fulfillment, medication adherence, immunizations, care gap closure and diagnostic testing. The retail pharmacy said it will also work with healthcare providers to help patients that are discharged from the hospital to transition to their homes.

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The news comes as many Americans continue to struggle with healthcare costs and just weeks after talks aimed at reducing the cost of 10 popular drugs began between CMS and major drug companies.

An aim to reach more people faster

“Our partnership with Pearl Health allows us to reach more communities faster and enable comprehensive, affordable care that improves long-term health outcomes and fosters healthier communities,” said John Driscoll, executive vice president and president of U.S. Healthcare at Walgreens Boots Alliance.

“Our technology-powered value-based care model aligns seamlessly with the healthcare services Walgreens offers, particularly in the most vulnerable communities,” said Michael Kopko, Pearl CEO. “With a focus on proactive, coordinated care, we’ll collaborate to deliver a better solution to providers and ultimately deliver high-quality services to patients, while managing their care efficiently.”

The partnership follows a series of investments that Walgreens has made in healthcare in recent years. These include its $5.2 billion investment in 2021 to increase its ownership stake to a majority share in VillageMD, a value-based primary care services provider. That was followed by a $3.5 billion investment last year when VillageMD acquired primary, specialty and urgent care provider Summit Health, the parent company of urgent care clinic chain CityMD.

Walgreens has also been investing in other fast-growing areas of the healthcare industry. These include its acquisitions last year of CareCentrix in the home-based care space and Shields Health Solutions in the specialty pharmacy services sector.

To find out more about Medicare’s ACO REACH program, visit the CMS website. Also, Pearl is offering a free guide and case study on the program.


Joey Solitro

Joey Solitro is a freelance financial journalist at Kiplinger with more than a decade of experience. A longtime equity analyst, Joey has covered a range of industries for media outlets including The Motley Fool, Seeking Alpha, Market Realist, and TipRanks. Joey holds a bachelor's degree in business administration. 

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