The spokesperson said Walgreens is not accepting insurance to cover visits, but it plans to do so in the future. Most chat visits will be $33 out of pocket, and prices for video visits will range from $36 to $75.
Walgreens will rely on an undisclosed third-party tech company to power its telehealth service, Dr. Sashi Moodley, chief clinical officer of U.S. healthcare, said during an interview at the HLTH conference on Tuesday. The company will model the virtual care service after the Boots Online Doctor program it launched in the United Kingdom two years ago and offer patients access to synchronous and asynchronous telehealth services, he said.
Some patients can already access hybrid in-person and video services at Walgreens-housed clinics. Walgreens subsidiary VillageMD, a primary care provider, also offers some virtual care options.
By offering direct-to-consumer virtual care, Walgreens aims to take on increased patient risk, as well as partner with insurance companies to offer its healthcare services, Moodley said.
“We are trying to evolve our model to be more of a healthcare company and healthcare service company,” Moodley said. “If you want to be a healthcare company and move more toward value-based care, you have to meet patients where they are at and engage patients the way they want to be engaged.”
Walgreens has invested billions of dollars in its healthcare strategy in recent years, joining other mega-retailers such as CVS Health and Walmart aiming to take a bigger slice of the market.
Walgreens announced a $5.2 billion investment in late 2021 to take majority ownership of VillageMD, in addition to a $300 million investment into home health company CareCentrix. Around the same time, Walgreens also agreed to spend $970 million to take a majority stake in specialty pharmacy company Shields Health Solutions.
Last year, Walgreens announced plans to buy the rest of CareCentrix for $392 million.
Walgreens-backed VillageMD is opening hundreds of primary care clinics co-located with Walgreens pharmacies, with a goal to reach 1,000 clinics by 2027. It also acquired Summit Health-CityMD earlier this year in an $8.9 billion deal, better positioning it for a move into multispecialty care.
The company has faced some hurdles, however, with its healthcare operations losing money in recent quarters. Analysts say such challenges likely contributed to former CEO Rosalind Brewer's decision to step down in September after two and a half years. The company is also looking for a chief financial officer and a chief information officer.