January 16, 2019

Walgreens, Microsoft announce partnership

Daily Briefing

    Walgreens Boots Alliance on Tuesday announced that it will partner with Microsoft to leverage the tech company's cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to improve care delivery via new technology and retail innovations.

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    Partnership details

    As part of the partnership, Walgreens and Microsoft plan to focus on ways to personalize health care services. Walgreens will leverage Microsoft's technologies to explore new ways to improve preventive self-care, such as nutrition and wellness, and chronic disease management. Walgreens said those solutions could include new digital applications, devices, or even in-store consultations.

    The companies also plan on connecting Walgreens stories to health information systems that will allow customers to access Walgreens' health care services from their digital devices. The companies said they will work with health care providers to "proactively engage their patients to improve medication adherence, reduce [ED] visits, and decrease hospital readmissions."

    As part of this effort, Walgreens will move the majority of its IT work to Microsoft's cloud platform, Azure, and will begin using Microsoft 365 cloud apps, as well as Microsoft mobility and security tools.

    In addition, Walgreens in a release said this year it will test "digital health corners" at as many as 12 of its stores. The health corners will be "aimed at the merchandising and sale of select health care-related hardware and devices," according to the release.

    The two companies did not disclose any financial terms and referred to their plan as a "strategic partnership."

    Comments

    Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina said the two companies will "reach out to other players in the [health care] space to create a true ecosystem that will be really able to facilitate the lives of our customers." He added, "Without a big technology company behind you, it will not be possible."

    Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said his company will act as the "glue" for different technology and partnerships that will utilize data to establish new programs. "So it's not just about Microsoft, but it's about again being able to orchestrate that entire ecosystem of tech providers in order to help companies like [Walgreens] transform" (Japsen, Forbes, 1/15 [1]; Japsen, Forbes, 1/15 [2]; Commins, HealthLeaders Media, 1/15; Spitzer, Becker's Health IT & CIO Report, 1/15; Novet/Fortt, CNBC, 1/15; Walgreens Boots Alliance release, 1/15).

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