Those collaborations build on Crawford's vision for Walgreens' newest strategy, which is managing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and asthma. As a partner in those systems, Crawford says the objective is population health management and the role is to increase medication adherence, provide testing, and share information with patients' primary care physicians. To him, including chronic care in the business strategy is a "natural extension" of Walgreens' ever-expanding move beyond the pharmacy counter.
"Those patients are coming into our stores significantly more than they are seeing their physicians," says Crawford. "We don't see ourselves as owning that particular patient. We see it as enhancing the experience with a physician. We're helping manage it consistently, versus a patient who has diabetes and goes to their doctor every six months."
Crawford's goal of owning a single community pharmacy in a neighborhood where he can greet patients by name seems quaint and simple now, but he believes that Walgreens' strategy is returning pharmacists back to being the face of what he sees as a front door to healthcare.
"Our real purpose is not putting pills in a bottle. It's the outcome that you get from adherence to your medication," he says. "We've freed up our pharmacists to be out front interacting with patients, and they love it. Pharmacists are at the intersection of all healthcare relationships, and now with more than 70,000 healthcare professionals between our pharmacists and nurse practitioners, we are in a real sweet spot when it comes to healthcare reform and having convenient access to quality, affordable care."