Partnerships are defining the future of healthcare. Walgreens Boots Alliance recently launched AllianceRx Walgreens Prime, a specialty pharmacy and mail services company. AllianceRX Walgreens Prime is composed of an alliance between Walgreens and Prime Therapeutics, a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) owned by 14 Blue Cross Blue Shield plans. The company will compete with other PBMs such as Express Scripts and Optum Rx, which help their clients manage healthcare by negotiating deals to buy drugs at scale.
In a statement, AllianceRX Walgreens Prime CEO Joel Wright said, “Leveraging Walgreens pharmacy network and operational efficiencies, along with the pharmacy benefit management expertise of Prime, we have the resources to deliver better care coordination, patient outcomes, and exceptional care and service to patients and payers.”
My take: the road to innovation in healthcare is being built one partnership at a time. All kinds of interesting combinations of health-related businesses are pooling their resources and ideas to create better ways to manage patient care, and the relationship between Walgreens and the Blue Cross Blue Shield-owned Prime Therapeutics is but one.
Many relationships are combining medical know-how and technology. For example, Forward, a membership-based healthcare startup founded by a former Googler, is in the founder’s words, ‘Primary Care Plus Plus’. Forward charges a flat fee for digital health-enhanced primary care including interactive digital communications with top doctors and wearables — a model that requires Forward to bring together partnerships in healthcare and technology. Moreover, a number of hospitals ranging from Mayo Clinic to Johns Hopkins are forming relationships with Apple to improve clinical care — relationships that require Apple to deepen its healthcare expertise and healthcare providers to get savvier about technology. For businesses such as Walgreens, Forward, and Apple’s medical partners, creating relationships with technologists and retailers is key to success.
As noted in a Forbes article, these partnerships are often born out of necessity. In the case of AllianceRX Walgreens Prime, Walgreens is forming a partnership to help its clients combat the rising costs of health plans. The industry is being fraught with turmoil and constant change, ranging from the advent of high-deductible premiums to the shift in physician compensation to value-based outcomes. But with change comes opportunity. Contact us to discuss how we can help you succeed with location marketing in a changing industry.