Deerfield, IL – There’s been no shortage of coverage on the rapidly evolving role of the pharmacist and of the community pharmacy. Pharmacists are the healthcare provider almost everyone has access to – a white coat who doesn’t require an appointment and is within a few miles of home -and today’s pharmacies are offering greatly expanded healthcare services in the retail setting.

Increasingly, those neighborhood white coats are doing more than administering flu shots; they’re becoming active providers of care. They’re being trained to be specialists in motivational interviewing, adherence, and management of specific chronic conditions. Even staying with patients as they make the transition into those successful first months of treatment.

Back in 2013, the CEO of Walgreens, Gregory Wasson said “We are bringing our pharmacists out from behind the counter so you can get the expertise you need to feel a little more healthy. Our purpose is to help people get, stay and live well….to transform the role that community pharmacy plays in healthcare in this nation and beyond. These changes allow pharmacies to advance their positions as healthcare locations by implementing health and wellness programs within the stores’ settings.”

Now, Walgreens is showing exactly what this evolved role of the pharmacy translates to in terms of patient experience. A few weeks ago, they released the findings of a unique study that set out to quantify the impact that pharmacist interventions can have on adherence, cost, and outcomes. The press release can be found here, and below is an overview of some of the highlights:

  • The study was a collaboration between Walgreens Health Services and Outcomes Research and IMS Health
  • The evaluated patients starting on medications across 16 different drug classes over a period of 6 months
  • They looked at the difference in outcomes between patients who received pharmacy interventions at Walgreens, and a control group of matched non-Walgreens control patients
  • Interventions included pharmacist consultations (in-person and over the phone) and reminders for Rx refills and pick-up (automated calls, text messages, and e-mail)


The results showed quite a positive impact on the Walgreen patients:

“This data demonstrates that reaching patients when they start new medications through multiple pharmacy-led channels, including one-on-one consultations, can play an important role in driving better health outcomes,” said Harry Leider, M.D., Walgreens chief medical officer. “These interventions, along with ongoing support from pharmacy staff, translate into patients being less likely to end up in high-cost settings like the hospital or emergency room.”

So far it looks as though the moves that Walgreens is making are really paying off for patients, and it’s probably safe to assume that similar efforts by other chains are having a positive impact as well. We’ll continue to watch how this early success impacts the scale and scope of the services that these retailers are willing and able to provide.

About the Author:

Jeffrey Giermek