The Growing Trend of Pharmacies Expanding into Primary Care: Walgreens and CVS Lead the Way

Ben H.

Hatched by Ben H.

Mar 03, 2024

4 min read


The Growing Trend of Pharmacies Expanding into Primary Care: Walgreens and CVS Lead the Way


Pharmacies are no longer just places to pick up prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. In recent years, major pharmacy chains like Walgreens and CVS have made significant investments in the healthcare industry, expanding their services to include primary care clinics. This shift is driven by the desire to provide more comprehensive care to patients and capitalize on the growing demand for accessible healthcare options. In this article, we will explore the strategies and goals of Walgreens and CVS as they continue to reshape the healthcare landscape.

Walgreens' Commitment to Integrated Healthcare:

Walgreens, one of the largest pharmacy chains in the United States, has been at the forefront of the pharmacy-to-primary care transition. With its recent unveiling of the Village Medical at Walgreens primary care location in suburban Chicago, the company has demonstrated its dedication to becoming a fully integrated healthcare provider. This clinic is just one of 200 locations that Walgreens has co-located with its stores across multiple states. The company's President of U.S. Healthcare Division, John Driscoll, emphasizes the importance of population density and opportunities for collaboration between primary care physicians and pharmacists in delivering quality patient care.

The Legacy of Oak Street Health:

Meanwhile, CVS Health has also made significant strides in expanding its primary care services through strategic acquisitions. In May, CVS finalized its acquisition of Oak Street Health, a Chicago-based primary care asset, for $10.6 billion. Oak Street Health's CEO, Mike Pykosz, recognizes the value of partnering with CVS and leveraging its extensive resources, including its retail footprint, pharmacies, and Aetna health plan business. This partnership allows Oak Street Health to reach more patients, improve coordination of care, and expand their channels of healthcare delivery.

Capitalizing on Chronic Illness Management:

A notable acquisition by CVS Health is Signify, the largest home-based health risk assessment company. Pykosz highlights the potential of this acquisition, as a significant portion of Signify's patients with chronic illnesses require ongoing medical care. By positioning Oak Street Health as their primary care provider, CVS can offer comprehensive and continuous care to these patients. This integration of services creates a unique opportunity to address the needs of individuals living with chronic conditions and ensure that they receive culturally competent medicine.

The Benefits of Community-Based Care:

Both Walgreens and Oak Street Health share a common commitment to hiring employees from the communities they serve. This approach not only helps support local economies but also promotes culturally competent care. By employing individuals who have a deep understanding of the community's needs and cultural nuances, these clinics can deliver more personalized and effective healthcare services. This emphasis on community-based care is a key differentiator for both Walgreens and CVS as they expand into the primary care space.

Actionable Advice to Improve Healthcare Services:

  • 1. Foster Collaboration: Encourage closer collaboration between primary care physicians and pharmacists to optimize patient care. By working together, they can identify potential drug interactions, ensure medication adherence, and provide holistic care that addresses all aspects of a patient's health.
  • 2. Prioritize Chronic Disease Management: Focus on offering specialized care for individuals with chronic illnesses. By investing in resources and services that cater to this patient population, healthcare providers can improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs in the long run.
  • 3. Promote Cultural Competence: Strive to create a diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the communities being served. This will help foster trust and improve patient satisfaction, ultimately leading to better health outcomes.


The integration of primary care services into pharmacies represents a significant shift in the healthcare industry. Walgreens and CVS Health are leading the way in this transformation, recognizing the value of providing comprehensive care to patients and leveraging their existing resources. By co-locating primary care clinics with their pharmacies and prioritizing collaboration, these companies are poised to reshape the way healthcare is delivered. As the trend continues to gain momentum, it is crucial for other healthcare organizations to adapt and explore similar partnerships to meet the evolving needs of patients.

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