Walgreens has announced yet another agreement to outsource store-branded health clinics to a prominent health system. Piedmont Healthcare, the No. 2 health system in Atlanta, has agreed to lease clinic space from Walgreens beginning Aug. 1, staff the clinics with Piedmont clinicians, and integrate Piedmont’s electronic medical records system.  Piedmont joins a growing list of health systems pursuing urgent care and retail clinic affiliations and acquisitions as part of their expansion and accessibility strategies.

In 2016, many retail clinics and urgent care centers transitioned from the potential status of “competitor” to “collaborator” for top health systems across the country. The following (non-comprehensive) list nods to the rising popularity of convenient care spaces to diagnose and treat patients and suggests the path to accountable, quality care under new payment models could very well position retail clinics as key players.

  1. January 2016: Walgreens outsources 56 Chicago-area clinics to Advocate Health Care.
    1. Advocate is the No. 1 health system in Chicago and represents 16 percent market share.
    2. Walgreens’ chief medical officer was quoted saying, “Going forward, we envision our clinic portfolio to be a hybrid of self-managed and outsourced locations.”
    3. The clinics are staffed by certified nurses and medical assistants employed by Advocate Medical Group.
    4. Advocate Health Care successfully integrated its electronic health record and billing systems into the Walgreens clinics.
  2. April 2016: Walgreens outsources 27 clinics to SSM Health in St. Louis.
    1. SSM Health Care is the No. 2 health system in St. Louis and represents 24 percent market share.
    2. The clinics are staffed by providers employed by SSM Health Medical Group.
  3. August 2016: Banner Health buys 32 Arizona urgent-care centers from Urgent Care Extra as part of an expansion strategy to operate 50 urgent care centers by the end of 2017.
    1. Banner Health is the No. 1 health system in Phoenix and represents 43 percent market share.
    2. More than 400 Urgent Care Extra employees joined Banner Health on Oct. 1, 2016.
    3. Banner’s executive VP for community delivery was quoted saying, “Banner is working hard to be where consumers want us to be, and when they want us to be there.”
  4. October 2016: Emory Healthcare in Atlanta partners with PeachTree ImmediateCare (16 locations) and SmartCare Urgent Care (four locations) and expands its relationship with CVS/minuteclinic to 38 area clinics.
    1. Emory Healthcare is the No. 3 health system in Atlanta and represents 15 percent market share.
    2. The providers at PeachTree and SmartCare joined the clinically integrated Emory Healthcare Network as non-employees.
    3. Emory implemented a shared EMR across the urgent care locations.
    4. Emory’s president and CEO was quoted saying, “We…believe these clinics will help in increasing access by providing alternative healthcare options.”
  5. November 2016: Hackensack Meridian Health opens co-branded clinics inside Rite Aid stores in Northern New Jersey.
    1. Hackensack Meridian is the No. 2 health system in Northern New Jersey and represents 22 percent market share.
    2. Hackensack Meridian pays rent to Rite Aid to use the space.
    3. Hackensack’s regional president Dean Lin was quoted saying, “…the idea is to have this be a resource that allows us to deliver ‘well’ services so that we can better engage with our patient population.”
  6. December 2016: MultiCare Health System in Seattle, which already operates numerous urgent care centers, acquires Immediate Clinic Seattle, a chain with 14 locations.
    1. MultiCare Health System is the No. 4 hospital in Seattle and represents 11 percent market share.
    2. MultiCare debuted MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care in 2016 as part of the health system’s plan to “grow its geographic footprint and respond to the changing needs of consumers.”
    3. President and CEO of MultiCare Health System, Bill Robertson, was quoted saying, “We believe that urgent care services are an important and necessary part of our healthcare continuum.”
  7. December 2016: University of Miami Health System agrees to manage and provide all clinical services at 17 Walgreens Healthcare Clinics in South Florida.
    1. UHealth is the No. 7 health system in Miami and represents 5 percent market share.
    2. As part of the agreement, Walgreens opened pharmacies at three UHealth facilities.
    3. The 17 healthcare clinics will transition to the health system in spring 2017.
    4. John Sory, UHealth’s chief executive of the UHealth Regional Alliance, was quoted saying, “…the University and Walgreens intend to explore new approaches to further extend access to routine and specialty care, to improve patient health through enhanced pharmacy services, and to utilize innovative ways to reach patients when and where they would benefit.”

In January 2017, Community Health Network (the No. 2 health system in Indianapolis with 23 percent market share) and Florida Hospital (the No. 3 health system in Tampa with 12 percent market share) agreed to own and operate retail clinics inside Walgreens stores in Indianapolis and Tampa, respectively. Separately, Ochsner Health System (the No. 1 health system in New Orleans with 36 percent market share) acquired Millennium Health Care (MHM) Urgent Care, the largest urgent care operator in New Orleans.

If the first few months of 2017 are any indication of what’s to come, 2017 will see many more convenient care acquisitions and affiliations. Stay tuned.


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