CLIENT CASE STUDY


Walgreens: A connected health platform for the transforming health industry

Building the foundational architecture to navigate industry standards and expand healthcare services.

Overview

Building the foundational architecture today to securely connect to tomorrow’s health ecosystem, navigate industry standards and expand healthcare services.

The transformation of the US healthcare industry driven by the Affordable Care Act is blurring the boundaries of the traditional US health delivery landscape. In this new landscape, Walgreens is pursuing the development of health system partnerships and connected health capabilities to become the first movers in new provider spaces, such as retail clinics.

To provide the services needed to connect Walgreens to the healthcare ecosystem enabling health information exchange and enhanced communications, the company needs to establish the necessary information technology (IT) infrastructure and strategy to develop a centralized and consistent approach to external connectivity.

Walgreens turned to Accenture to help it to move to a standard, scalable single-point gateway structure to connect to internal and external stakeholders. Accenture’s Connected Health team collaborated closely with Walgreens’ resources to develop a plan, and subsequently design and develop a foundational architecture and the core capabilities needed to enable clinical data sharing. As Walgreens continues its journey toward becoming more connected in the health ecosystem, the next phases of deployment are to build connections to strategic health systems, delivery networks and stand-alone institutions.

Opportunity

Walgreens is evolving its businesses amidst a major transformation of the US healthcare industry driven by the Affordable Care Act. This transformation is blurring the boundaries of the traditional US health delivery landscape. Emerging is a new ecosystem of participants consisting of providers, payers, healthcare partners, public health institutions, laboratories and pharmaceutical retailers and manufacturers. In this new landscape, Walgreens—and its competitors—are fiercely pursuing the development of health system partnerships and connected health capabilities to become the first movers in new provider spaces, such as retail clinics.

To provide the services needed to connect Walgreens to the healthcare ecosystem enabling health information exchange and enhanced communications, the company recognizes the importance of having the necessary information technology (IT) infrastructure and strategy in place.

However, business growth and new acquisitions in recent years have made the company’s IT infrastructure more complex. Without a centralized and consistent approach to external connectivity, Walgreens projected that the number of connections and ways to connect would become unmanageable.

To help Walgreens address this issue and assist the company in designing and developing a manageable and scalable solution, Walgreens turned to Accenture for its extensive experience in connected health and solution delivery. These services included drawing on a team from Accenture’s Connected Health Services practice that was supplemented by an offshore delivery capability team based at the Accenture Connected Health Center of Excellence in Bangalore, India. Additionally, the team was further supported by Accenture’s global team of Connected Health leaders.

Solution

The focus of Walgreens’ Connected Health strategy was to enhance the existing infrastructure to accommodate storage of clinical information, as well as to simplify the complexity of the existing IT architecture. This focus would require Walgreens to move to a standard, scalable single-point gateway structure to connect to internal and external stakeholders.

Accenture’s Connected Health team collaborated closely with Walgreens’ resources to develop a plan, and subsequently design and develop a foundational architecture and the core capabilities needed to enable clinical data sharing. A buy-versus-build analysis ultimately helped Walgreens to adopt a best-of-breed solution, leveraging the company’s existing middleware suite.

To support the solution, Walgreens introduced components of Oracle’s Healthcare Solutions providing a foundation for the overall integration and an established clinical data repository inclusive of a standards-compliant health record locator.

Also included was a dynamic policy infrastructure that integrates privacy and security management into a single solution. This solution is further supported by components of the Oracle Access Management Suite and Oracle Entitlement Server and Results Viewer—a clinician-centric application for secure access to a full spectrum of patient data with Direct Secure Messaging capabilities.

As Walgreens continues its journey toward becoming more connected in the health ecosystem, the next phases of deployment are to build connections to strategic health systems, delivery networks and stand-alone institutions.

Results

Walgreens has progressed on its journey with building out the foundational infrastructure needed to help enable the company’s business units to securely connect to the health ecosystem, navigate industry standards and expand healthcare services

Walgreens’ infrastructure is designed to help facilitate connections to providers, payers, government, labs and health information exchanges as well as provide the transport and delivery of such functionality as clinical messaging for areas such as medication adherence and health testing, e-referrals, e-consultations, lab orders and results delivery, and electronic distribution of visit summaries. The foundational infrastructure already enables Walgreens to share clinical data with external stakeholders, helping it to become a participant in existing care models.

The benefits Walgreens has realized include:

IT benefits:

  • Enterprise-wide gateway utilization

    Standard methodologies for connecting

    Consistent data formats for ease with implementation/integration

Business benefits:

  • Simplified implementations

  • Minimized support/service variations

  • Deepened partner relationships due to quality reporting and outcomes

  • Increased patient loyalty due

  • Ability to participate effectively with new care models (Patient Centered Medical Home, Accountable Care Organization)