Walgreens teams up with Alphabet’s Verily to tackle chronic disease

The initial major focus of the partnership will be medication adherence, which costs the U.S. healthcare system nearly $300 billion annually

Walgreens Boots Alliance has joined forces with Verily, the life sciences arm of Alphabet, on a new initiative focused on improving health outcomes for patients suffering from chronic conditions.

Patients with chronic conditions make up the bulk of healthcare spending and turning technology towards better care management has been pitched as a major way to lower the cost of the care.

The new alliance between the Deerfield, Illinois-based pharmacy chain and South San Francisco-based Verily will make Walgreens the “first-choice” for retail commercialization of Verily products. The partnership is meant to allow for efficient scaling of innovative healthcare solutions across Walgreens widespread geographic footprint.

The initial major focus of the partnership will be medication adherence, which costs the U.S. healthcare system nearly $300 billion annually. The companies said they are developing a pilot project to improve medication adherence through devices and other technology tools.

“This relationship affords us the opportunity to jointly tackle real-world issues that significantly impact the health of individuals and communities,” Verily CEO Andrew Conrad said in a statement.

“Medication adherence, which represents one of the most significant and costly barriers to improving patient outcomes, is an area that I am most excited to work on with a partner like Walgreens.”

One potential collaboration between the companies could be working on to improving advanced healthcare technologies and solutions including sensors and software to screen, prevent and diagnose disease.

Walgreens will also incorporate virtual diabetes solutions created by Onduo, the joint venture between Verily and Sanofi, internally for its employees. The digital health tool provides coaching and virtual visits for specialty doctors.

“The continued rise in chronic diseases today can be costly to patients as well as to our healthcare system,” Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Stefano Pessina, said in a statement.

“Working with Verily, we’ll look at how we can best support integrated and value-based care to meet our patients’ needs, as well as opportunities to address other chronic conditions over time.”

Walgreens has been ramping up its partnerships with large corporate partners in the face of new entrants and competitors in the market. One recent example is a potential financial tie up with insurer Humana.

Alphabet has also ramped up its activities in the space with major healthcare executive hires like Geisinger Health CEO David Feinberg.

Photo: Joe Raedle, Getty Images