Walgreens doubles down on predictive analytics partnership
Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) followed up its Aug. 31 majority investment in CareCentrix by agreeing on Oct. 11 to buy the remaining 45% stake in the predictive analytics-driven care coordination and benefit management firm. The full acquisition is expected to close by March 2023.
CareCentrix CEO John Driscoll will take over as president of WBA’s U.S. Healthcare group by the end of October and will report directly to WBA CEO Roz Brewer while serving on the acquiring company’s executive committee. WBA reported that CareCentrix delivered pro forma sales of $1.5 billion in WBA’s 2021 fiscal year.
Buying into ‘profit pools’
In making the announcement, WBA signaled that the company intends further expansion into “larger, faster-growing profit pools that drive synergies across the care continuum, including provider enablement and managed service organizations, primary care, population health, home health, post-acute care, specialty pharmacy, and retail pharmacy.”
A year ago, WBA made a $5.2 billion investment in primary care operator VillageMD, which at the time owned 230 practices across 15 U.S. markets with responsibility for more than 1.6 million patients. By 2025, WBA plans to open at least 600 Village Medical at Walgreens primary care practices—with physicians and pharmacists co-located at each store.
A month prior to the VillageMD deal, WBA staked $970 million to support growth of Shields Health Solutions, which integrates health system-owned specialty pharmacy care. Shields represents more than 1 million specialty patients across more than 30 disease states through partnerships with over 70 health systems.
Building on analytics
The U.S. post-acute care market—which encompasses services for patients after surgery, major medical procedure, or illness—is expected to reach a valuation of $444 billion in the next five years.
Big businesses are looking to leverage technology partnerships to gain footholds in the lucrative sector. For example, in early September, CVS outbid several high-profile competitors for control of Signify Health, which specializes in data-driven health risk assessments. Around the same, Walmart announced a 10-year agreement for its health center clinicians to use analytics and decision-support tools from Optum, a UnitedHealth Group business.
Driscoll’s new leadership role at WBA coincides with CareCentrix’s success in using predictive analytics to coordinate care for patients from hospital to home. CareCentrix strives to make home care more accessible by proactively identifying clinical and non-clinical needs, assessing risks for readmissions, and connecting patients with appropriate resources in a timely manner. Simultaneously, clinical alerts generated by artificial intelligence technology aim to close gaps in care.
Before running CareCentrix, Driscoll served as president of Castlight Health, a digital healthcare navigation company, and group president at Medco, a pharmacy benefit manager spun out of pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck. Additionally, Driscoll founded and chaired the Surescripts ePrescribing Network, which currently services more than 1 billion prescriptions annually.
Frank Irving is a Philadelphia-based content writer and communications consultant specializing in healthcare and technology.