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New Walgreens wellness program targets chronic conditions

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DEERFIELD, Ill. — At select drug stores, Walgreen Co. is rolling out a self-care educational program for people with chronic conditions.

Called Walgreens Optimal Wellness, the program initially will focus on people with type 2 diabetes, the drug chain said Wednesday. The company officially began enrolling patients January 1 and is launching the program at certain stores in four markets: Indianapolis; Phoenix; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Oklahoma City.

Expanding the pharmacist’s role as a trusted health care provider, Optimal Wellness works with patients’ primary care doctors to help them more easily understand their disease, mainly via individual health coaching and diabetes counseling, according to Walgreens. It’s based on the North Carolina Center for Pharmaceutical Care’s successful Asheville, N.C., diabetes care project as well as earlier Walgreens diabetes pilot education programs developed by the drug chain and Joslin Diabetes Center, a global leader in diabetes research, education and care affiliated with Harvard Medical School, the company said.

"Walgreens Optimal Wellness utilizes our wide range of health care providers and resources to control debilitating and costly chronic care conditions," Walgreens president and chief executive officer Greg Wasson said in a statement. "Diabetes is one of the most difficult chronic care diseases to manage and the most costly. Through accessible community pharmacies, our program brings patients the tools they need to live healthier and more productive lives."

Walgreens noted that Optimal Wellness leverages its thousands of health care providers, including pharmacists and Take Care Clinic nurse practitioners. These personal health coaches will help identify patient challenges to managing their condition and counsel them on overcoming those obstacles, as well as reinforce and support all aspects of doctors’ prescribed treatment plans, the company said. And after each patient interaction with a health coach, the primary care physician will be notified with details of the meeting.

Each of the coaches has been trained through a program developed with Joslin Diabetes Center, and the program has been certified by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, Walgreens reported.

The company added that it’s in the final stages of talks with leading managed care organizations and employers to enroll patients in the program.

Treating diabetes remains a "daunting challenge,” comments Dr. Lucy Crane, corporate medical director at Walgreens.

"While great strides are being made through research and education that have reduced the effects of diabetes complications, nearly 900 people die from complications from this disease every day," Crane explained. "Providing patients with their own personal health coach will enable them to develop a step-by-step diabetes plan that is ongoing, convenient and customized to daily life. Directly engaging with patients leads to far better adherence and ultimately better outcomes when treating chronic diseases."


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