Rite Aid, WellSpan forge partnership to boost care

Heyward Donigan, left, president and CEO of Rite Aid, and Roxanna Gapstur, president and CEO of WellSpan Health. (photos/submitted)

Under a partnership announced Aug. 15, Rite Aid and WellSpan Health plan to share data so they can better coordinate care for the roughly 100,000 patients they share in Central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland.

  • They may eventually share space, with York-based WellSpan operating inside Rite Aid pharmacies, according to Chris Bohrer, senior vice president of payer and strategic initiatives for the Philadelphia-based pharmacy chain.
  • For now, however, the two organizations are focused on what they can do with shared data.
  • “WellSpan knows things we don’t know and Rite Aid knows things that WellSpan doesn’t know,” Bohrer said

Like what: Rite Aid knows when people fill – — or don’t fill — prescriptions written by their doctors. The company also follows up with patients after they start a new medication to see how they’re doing, potentially uncovering side effects, Bohrer said.

  • WellSpan, meanwhile, may know which patients have gaps in care, such as overdue immunizations or cancer screenings, said Dr. Geoffrey Nicholson senior vice president of population health at the health system.
  • “The opportunity to engage with a trusted member of Rite Aid’s care team and redirect that patient into services to improve their overall health is an opportunity that we don’t want to miss,” Nicholson said.
  • Rite Aid has 45 stores within the WellSpan footprint, which extends from Franklin and Adams counties through York County to Lancaster and Lebanon counties.

What’s the benefit: Rite Aid can deepen its relationship with its customers, improving retention, Bohrer said.

  • WellSpan could eventually reach new patients, said Nicholson, who also cited the potential to drive down health care costs.
  • And WellSpan clinics in Rite Aid stores? “The way I would characterize it is, we have not eliminated anything,” Nicholson said. “Whatever makes sense for both organizations.”

Why is this happening: As a front-line service for many patients, pharmacies have rolled out various models for delivering health care over the years.

  • Rite Aid used to operate walk-in clinics called RediClinics at stores in Pennsylvania and other states. 
  • But the clinics were shut down in 2020 after the company decided they were not a good strategic fit.
  • By working with WellSpan, Rite Aid can focus on being a good pharmacy while still helping to coordinate care, Bohrer said. “Our goal is to partner with local partners.”
  • WellSpan is not its only partner. Rite Aid is working with a startup called Homeward to deliver primary care in rural areas, where access is limited.
  • Rivals are taking a more acquisitive approach.
  • Walgreens, for example, is investing billions of dollars in VillageMD to open hundreds of primary care practices in its pharmacies.
  • CVS has said it plans to buy all or part of a primary care provider, according to CNBC.
  • Then there is Amazon, which is paying $3.9 billion for primary care network One Medical.

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