Pharmacy & Healthcare

HLTH Conference 2022: Key learnings from 5 WBA leaders

Leaders at Walgreens Boots Alliance took to the stage at the healthcare industry’s premiere event for innovation.

By Elyse Russo
Roz Brewer at HLTH

Thousands of healthcare industry leaders gathered in Las Vegas from Nov. 13 to 16 for the fifth annual HLTH conference, and Walgreens Boots Alliance showed up at the event in a major way. Five company leaders took to the stage to discuss a variety of topics, from the future of pharmacy in healthcare to Walgreens role in clinical trials. Over 9,000 industry leaders, experts, media and influencers attended the four-day conference. 

Here’s who was there from WBA, and the key takeaway from each of their discussions:

Roz Brewer, CEO

“Healthcare is local, and most times healthcare happens outside of the current health system. We have the ability to take our relationship between the pharmacist and the consumer, combine that with the primary care that VillageMD delivers, and the in-home care that CareCentrix offers…and we can patch together a continuum of care and deliver healthcare services through a brand that everyone knows and trusts.”

Brewer alluded to WBA’s investments in VillageMD, CareCentrix and Shields Health Solutions and how the company is building a “continuum of care” for healthcare consumers. And Walgreens footprint—nearly 9,000 stores with 78% of them within five miles of every household in the U.S.—brings healthcare services right to most of the population’s doorsteps.

John Driscoll, Executive Vice President and President of U.S. Healthcare

“We will continue to invest in, expand and leverage partnerships with entrepreneurs throughout the healthcare system because we know that with our 86,000 healthcare providers along with our partners, we can provide a more accessible and better connected experience for patients.”

Driscoll, just 30 days into his new role at WBA, emphasized the strength of the combined expertise and care we can offer with our growing portfolio of leading healthcare services. Driscoll also said that pharmacy is at the center of it all, not just for WBA but for many healthcare technology companies.

Rina Shah, Group Vice President of Pharmacy of the Future and Healthcare Segments 

“You might think of Walgreens as an established brand, but if you haven't stepped in one in a little while, you might not realize there is tremendous transformation happening within Walgreens.”

Shah talked about the work Walgreens is doing to give its pharmacists more time for patient care, like how the company is rolling out microfulfillment centers across the U.S., which help automate the filling of prescriptions. She explained how this model adds value for pharmacists while also driving value to payer partners and health systems since Walgreens is leveraging its clinicians in a different way.

Ramita Tandon, Chief Clinical Trials Officer

“Clinical trials need to be viewed as a care option across this nation and need to be presented whenever standard of care is insufficient.”

Earlier this year, Walgreens launched its clinical trials business with Tandon at the helm. With less than 5 percent of Americans participating in clinical trials, she said there’s more work do in engaging, empowering and enabling local communities to participate in clinical trials as a care option. And Walgreens is well-positioned to do this given our store footprint and the knowledge we have about our customers’ and patients’ needs. Tandon and her team will also use the Walgreens footprint to reach underserved communities and improve clinical trial diversity.

Kendal Whitlock, Head of Digital Optimization, Real World Evidence Clinical Trials

“Structural and cultural inequities exist inside institutions and outside of the healthcare setting, which compounds the existing barriers to clinical trial participation.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Walgreens learned a lot about vaccine equity and making sure those in underserved communities had the resources they needed to make informed decisions about their health. Whitlock and Tandon said they plan on using these key learnings to remove barriers to participation in Walgreens clinical trials while also focusing on trial diversity.

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