PHARMACIES: Consumer Centric in the Future?

By Staff Reporters



Rina Shah has been working at Walgreens her entire career—close to 25 years—but this year she got a shiny new title: vice president of pharmacy of the future. The role was created as part of what CEO Rosalind Brewer said in Walgreens’ latest earnings call is the company’s top priority: creating a consumer-centric healthcare company. The retail pharmacy giant essentially wants to free up its pharmacists’ time so they can go from filling prescriptions all day to engaging more directly with patients.

Shah is heading up these efforts, and she sat down with Neal Feyman to talk about what Walgreens sees when it pictures the pharmacy of the future.

What does “the pharmacy of the future” mean? When we talk about the future of pharmacy, it’s to leverage our pharmacists in a much more data-driven, effective way to lower costs in the system.

For example, in certain states where there’s higher pollen counts and pollution, we’re seeing higher emergency room visits because of asthma. We can educate people on the difference between a rescue inhaler and a maintenance inhaler—and how they can understand triggers—and ultimately impact lower emergency room visits because of that.

What problems are you trying to solve in this role? Prior to the pandemic hitting, we had been asked by providers and payers and other organizations for our pharmacists to do more. We were being asked to provide testing services and in-depth consultations with patients.

However, our operating model didn’t really account for that. Our pharmacists were busy doing many more administrative tasks. We made the decision that we needed to transform the model, which meant really freeing up the capacity of our pharmacists so they could spend time with patients delivering care, as it’s always intended to be. Keep reading here.—NF



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