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Walgreens to launch direct virtual care to consumers

The cost is $33 out of pocket for a chat visit with insurance not accepted at this time.

Susan Morse, Executive Editor

Photo: MoMo Productions/Getty Images

Walgreens will be offering direct-to-consumer virtual services starting later this month.

Insurance is not being accepted for these visits, Walgreens said. Most Walgreens Virtual Healthcare chat visits will be priced at $33 out-of-pocket, with pricing for video visits varying from $36 to $75.

In the future, Walgreens said it plans to accept insurance for virtual visits.

Insurance can be used to cover the cost of prescriptions. Consumers can get their prescriptions filled at Walgreens pharmacies or with Walgreens Same Day Prescription Delivery.

Testing services can determine further treatment, as needed.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Pharmacy convenience for walk-in care and now virtual services is furthering what's been called the retailization of healthcare.

Walgreens Virtual Healthcare is tying together on-demand virtual consultations with healthcare providers with seamless prescription services. Both are available to consumers on their phones or other devices.

The offering will be available initially in nine states in late October, with plans to expand over time

States where it will be available at launch include California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohioand Texas.

These states encompass nearly half of the U.S. population and nearly half of Walgreens pharmacy customers, the company said.

Patients in eligible states will be able to access WVH at Walgreens.com beginning in late October.

At launch, WVH will offer treatment for some of the common health needs including seasonal allergies, medication refills for high blood pressure, urgent care, such as COVID-19 or the flu, women's health, such as treatment for a UTI or birth control and emergency contraception, men's health, such as erectile dysfunction, and hair loss and skin health.

THE LARGER TREND

Last year, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Evernorth, the health services subsidiary of Cigna invested $8.9 billion towards Village MD's acquisition of Summit Health-CityMD.

This was the latest chapter in the retailization of healthcare that is expected only to grow, according to Paul Schuhmacher, a managing director in the healthcare practice of consulting firm AArete. Schuhmacher said at the time that the deal was a big investment and a significant opportunity for the drugstore chain to capture some of the revenue that would usually go to traditional provider groups.

It's a fast-food model that offers consumers convenience and accessibility.

Hospitals and physician practices are seeing direct competition from CVS, Amazon, Walmart and others that are investing heavily in different ways.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: SMorse@himss.org