A theme of “partnership” thread through the agenda of the Walgreens Boots Alliance Ignite event on May 17, during which more than 6,000 team members tuned in virtually to hear from WBA CEO Roz Brewer, leaders, team members and representatives of the Walgreens National Feedback Forum (store employees from across the U.S.).
Conversations touched on health equity, investments in healthcare solutions, enabling a better experience for customers and equipping our team members with tools to care for their whole selves, and how these efforts are propelling us toward our vision of reimagining local healthcare and wellbeing for all.
Health equity continues to be a major imperative for Walgreens and WBA. With thousands of Walgreens stores across the U.S. in medically underserved communities or those with high Social Vulnerability Index scores, we have a commitment to serving all patients, and understand the disparity of care that exists.
Rina Shah, Walgreens group vice president, pharmacy of the future and healthcare segments, sat down with special guest Alicia Wilson, vice president for economic development at Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Health System in Baltimore, Maryland, where Walgreens has an on-site pharmacy and a longstanding relationship. The pair discussed how partnerships—both larger alignments with healthcare institutions such as Johns Hopkins, and smaller ones at the community and store levels—will play an increasingly important role in addressing persistent healthcare inequities in communities by combining education, resources and data.
“As we think about health equity, we approach it in the way that we want to help individuals have the opportunity to live their healthiest lives regardless of sex, gender, race and disability, but we also know there's a significant amount rooted in the system around place,” said Wilson. “And so we approach it with economic development, real estate development, placemaking and partnerships like the one we have with Walgreens to really drive different outcomes that ultimately allow us to reach those goals.”
The transformation of our business that’s built around the pharmacy of the future continues to be defined, said John Standley, WBA executive vice president and Walgreens president, who outlined several in-store initiatives for Walgreens that are part of this plan. Micro-fulfillment centers—locations that focus solely on filling and dispensing prescriptions—along with advancements in pharmacy inventory automation will allow pharmacists to have more time for patient consultation and care. Additionally, building on the depth of Walgreens experience with COVID testing, Standley discussed future plans to do even more testing and treatment in store.
Continuing the conversation on partnerships, Anita Allemand, WBA chief transformation and integration officer, summed it up by saying, “We can't do all this on our own.”
She talked about work underway to integrate the expertise and capabilities of three investments in particular—VillageMD, CareCentrix and Shields— to enable us to engage and impact patient care across the continuum. Each of these investments positions our pharmacists as a critical part of patient healthcare teams, for example, supporting medication therapy management alongside coordinated physician care to help reduce hospital readmissions. In collaboration with these industry leaders, we are accelerating efforts to develop integrated solutions that unlock the power of Walgreens Health to deliver better care, improve clinical outcomes and decrease total healthcare costs.
“Now that we’ve made these investments, we're always thinking about how do we coordinate? Where do we integrate? How are we thinking about enterprise-wide solutions?” said Allemand.
According to Tracey Brown, Walgreens president of retail products and chief customer officer, the ability to fulfill our purpose of more joyful lives through better health starts with a great customer experience, and that’s made possible when three things come together:
- Increasing team member engagement and satisfaction
- Simplifying operations for team members and customers
- Offering great service and merchandise
“What we're bringing together is our people, omnichannel and digital solutions, and physical products and services,” says Brown. “It's all of these things that we have to continue to bring together seamlessly to make sure we're understanding needs and then meeting those needs. And when we get those three things right, this is where the delightful customer experience comes in.”
Critical to building a high-performance culture are our team members, who enable success across all of WBA’s strategic priorities. Holly May, WBA executive vice president and global chief human resources officer, shared our people strategy that’s centered around caring for our team members as whole people—mind, body and spirit. This, in turn, best equips them to meet the needs of our customers and patients.
With that as the objective, May introduced Be Well Connected, our expanded team member program for mental health and wellbeing. The program includes two new platforms, Journey Live and IndieFlix, which can be accessed either in person or virtually, and complements our existing Life365 and Employee Assistance Program, all available at no cost to U.S. team members and their families.
In other app news, Brewer introduced a new team member communication mobile app called W Connect. As WBA continues to evolve its culture, this new app moves one step closer to a more modern internal communication infrastructure that meets team members where they are, motivates our employees and connects them to each other.