Amazon, Walgreens, and CVS target primary care in new acquisitions
Amazon, Walgreens, and CVS are predicted to be the biggest healthcare disruptors of 2023, according to an AHA report, and each have been making their way into primary care.
Making a splash in primary care this year is Amazon, whose recent acquisition of One Medical Group is already being investigated by the FTC for possible antitrust violations.
If the deal passes inspection, Amazon will control One Medical’s 188 offices in 28 markets with over 767,000 members.
Related article: Feds investigate Amazon for antitrust violations
Currently, AmazonClinic offers instant appointments with virtual care providers for a limited range of common ailments to anyone for about $35, no insurance necessary.
Recent Geonetric healthcare consumer survey found that there is an “increased pricing sensitivity among consumers,” making Amazon a particular threat to the primary care landscape. The survey also found that 43% of consumers were willing to change healthcare providers if service wasn’t exceptional.
“[W]e saw an equally large group of patients who said, ‘I’m unimpressed with the experience I’m having here,” Chief strategy officer Ben Dillion said on the results, “They were saying, ‘Nothing here is strong enough for me to value this over other factors like needing something better — better service, better options — it’s time to try something new.'”
Last month, the company also launched RxPass, a service within AmazonPharmacy, that allows its approximately 200 million Amazon Prime members to subscribe to up to 50 generic medications that treat over 80 common conditions for a flat rate of $5.
Related article: Breaking barriers: how Amazon Pharmacy RxPass is improving health equity
VillageMD, of which Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) is majority owner, has acquired urgent care provider clinic chain Summit Health for $8.9 billion. The acquisition comes after VillageMD purchased a Texas-based medical practice that provides primary, geriatric, and urgent care.
CEO Rosalind Brewer shared the company’s goal in the fourth-quarter earnings call, “We are moving swiftly to implement our vision of consumer-centric tech-enabled healthcare solutions that improve outcomes and lower costs for patients, providers and payers.”
Walgreens has been scooping up smaller pharmacies as part of its expansion. Walgreens acquired Pharmaca Integrative for $19.35 million, The U.S. Sun reports.
CVS has made its second billion-dollar purchase in the last 7 months with its acquisition of primary company Oak Street Health, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, after purchasing home healthcare provider Signify Health last year.
CVS currently owns insurance provider Aetna, pharmacy benefits manager Caremark and offers in-store urgent care and vaccinations through its MinuteClinics.
Karen Lynch, CEO of CVS, told CNBC on an earnings call she wants to “continue to build on this powerful momentum,” by expanding into primary care.
“Our team is delivering meaningful progress on our strategy as we’re striving to become the nation’s leading health solutions company.”
While the move solidifies CVS’s move in primary care, critics are dubious that its latest acquisition is worth it.
“By themself, the CVS acquisitions may not indicate a large enough beachhead in the proverbial skirmish but taken in together with the other similar encroachments made by Amazon, Walgreens, etc.,” Saad Chaudry, chief digital and information officer of Luminis Health told Becker’s “One of the key factors in how well they do will be the digitization of their provider operations via technology and modern and standardized workflows for provision of care.”
That’s certainly true; digital improvements leading to increased accessibility and improved workflow are some of the ways Amazon, Walgreens, and CVS are transforming the primary care field.