Minneapolis, MN. - Earlier this month, United Health Group’s Optum announced a new partnership with Walgreens Boots Alliance to launch new urgent care centers right next to, or in some cases, within existing Walgreen stores. Piloted in five different markets to date, this new partnership will offer easier access to treatment options, a more efficient and potential savings for patients as well as the ability to merge technology making it easier to manage one’s health.

Around the same time frame, relatively speaking, CVS and Aetna agreed to a $69 billion merger that, much like the UHC/Walgreens partnership, will bring even more efficiencies to a patient – discounts on treatments through CVS pharmacies, more point-of-care options in the CVS brick and mortar stores and the increased exposure Aetna will have to data- that in turn could help more patients adhere better to their treatment plans.

Both new partnerships signal a push to help keep their brick and mortar stores relevant as one online giant, Amazon, makes moves to position their business into the healthcare space and more specifically, the pharmacy business. Already armed with pharmacy licensing approvals in 12 states, the online retail store is readying itself to possibly one day bring medications right to your door and the opportunities for their voice-activated Echo technology are endless when it comes to the healthcare market.

You can read more about UHC’s partnership here and the latest on the CVS/Aetna merger here.

Why This Matters – 

Amazon’s entry into healthcare doesn’t surprise us, as well as the industry’s response to remain competitive and keep their physical locations relevant. Several trends we are following in 2018 touch on key aspects of these evolving stories. Here is a peek at a couple trends we’re tracking that help substantiate the movements in the pharmacy space. (Download your copy to crack open everything these trends showcase as well as everything else we’re following in 2018!)

Better Experience in Store - Not all retail stores are closing. Some are closing in on differentiated customer experiences that pair something great to do with something irresistible to buy.

Divided Interests - The merging of PBMs with pharmacies is threatening to shift the focus of front-line pharmacy staff.

It is interesting to see the online landscape shifting customer expectations within their brick and mortar experiences. We will keep following this story as it continues to unfold and the massive shifts that continue to happen in healthcare overall.

About the Author:

As Strategist of Innovation, Drew is charged daily with championing innovative thinking and doing. Drew is part of a global team that leads new innovative ideas that attract different advocates among existing and potential brands that are shared across all agency partners. Drew is backed by over 16 years of brand, sales and marketing experience with Fortune 500 companies such as Progressive and Nationwide Insurance as well as Founder & President of his own healthcare insurance agency for 6 years. Most recently Drew was part of the agency team that launched Briviact for UCB, Foundation Medicine as well as key roles with Eli Lilly Oncology and Johnson & Johnson.