Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have joined forces to develop new healthcare delivery models, technology and retail innovations to advance and improve the future of healthcare. The companies will combine the power of Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud and AI platform, healthcare investments and new retail solutions with WBA’s customer reach, convenient locations, outpatient healthcare services and industry expertise to make healthcare delivery more personal, affordable and accessible for people around the world.
As part of the partnership, the companies have committed to a multiyear research and development (R&D) investment to build healthcare solutions, improve health outcomes and lower the cost of care. This investment will include funding, subject-matter experts, technology and tools. The companies will also explore the potential to establish joint innovation centers in key markets. Additionally, in 2019 WBA will pilot up to 12 store-in-store “digital health corners” aimed at the merchandising and sale of select healthcare-related hardware and devices.
The companies will focus on connecting WBA stores and health information systems to people wherever they are through their digital devices. This will allow people to access healthcare services, such as virtual care — when, where and how they need it.
The integration of information will enable insights based on data science and artificial intelligence (AI) that can allow for fundamental improvements such as supporting the transition of healthcare data into more community-based locations and sustainable transformation in health care delivery.
Working with patients’ healthcare providers, the companies will proactively engage their patients to improve medication adherence, reduce emergency room visits and decrease hospital readmissions. Core to this model is data privacy, security and consent, which will be fundamental design principles, underscored by Microsoft’s investments in building a trusted cloud platform.
WBA and Microsoft will also focus on enabling more personalized healthcare experiences from preventative self-care to chronic disease management. WBA will pursue lifestyle management solutions in areas such as nutrition and wellness via customers’ delivery method of choice, including digital devices and digital applications or in-store expert advice.
Through a combination of R&D and external partnerships, a suite of chronic disease management and patient engagement applications are planned for development, alongside a portfolio of connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices for nonacute chronic care management, delivered by Microsoft’s cloud, AI and IoT technologies.
Additionally, the companies will work to build a seamless ecosystem of participating organizations to better connect consumers, providers — including Walgreens and Boots pharmacists — pharmaceutical manufacturers and payors. Microsoft and WBA will leverage each other’s market research and identify the right partners to develop solutions.
Through this agreement, Microsoft becomes WBA’s strategic cloud provider, and WBA plans to migrate the majority of the company’s IT infrastructure onto Microsoft Azure. This will include new transformational platforms in retail, pharmacy and business services; new capability in data and analytics; and certain legacy applications and systems.