Walgreen Co. has been named as one of the health care industry's most innovative companies by Fast Company magazine.

Walgreens, health care innovator, most innovative companies, Fast Company magazine, health care industry, health care, Kermit Crawford, Fast 50, world's most innovative companies, Well Experience, pharmacy, drug chain, food desert, food oasis, electric vehicle charging station, EV charging stations

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Walgreens recognized as health care innovator

February 27th, 2012

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. has been named as one of the health care industry's most innovative companies by Fast Company magazine.

Walgreens said Monday it was the second time in three years that it was selected by Fast Company as part of the publication's annual "Fast 50" issue (March 2012) listing the world's most innovative companies.

The drug chain, ranked No. 3 in the list of the top 10 health innovators, said it was recognized for leadership and innovation in health care services, ranging from its "Well Experience" store format and efforts to increase access to healthy foods in underserved communities to its plan to become the nation's leading retail host of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

"We're honored to again be recognized by Fast Company as one of the world's most innovative organizations," Kermit Crawford, president of pharmacy, health and wellness services and solutions at Walgreens, said in a statement. "With more than 7,800 community drug stores and a network of health care professionals trusted by millions of people every day, innovation is how we provide greater access to a wide variety of health and daily living needs."

Walgreens noted that the Well Experience format, which made its debut in late 2010 and was followed by a broader pilot of 20 stores in the Chicago area last year, marks a new approach to the pharmacy and health care experience. Chief among the concept's innovations is positioning pharmacists at a desk in front of the pharmacy to spur patient counseling, facilitate clinical services and answer patient questions.

Other features of the format include "health guides," who are available to answer product and service questions and help customers find solutions for their health care needs or check in for the store's Take Care Clinic walk-in health clinic; Express Rx self-serve touch-screen kiosks that enables patients to quickly pick up and pay for pre-ordered prescriptions refills; and a "Health Corner" area for individual or group health and wellness events. There are also private or semi-private consultation rooms for services such as immunizations, blood pressure testing, blood glucose and A1C tests, and self-injectable medications.

According to Walgreens, the Well Experience format has been deployed at nearly 100 pilot stores in the Chicago and Indianapolis markets.

Meanwhile, Walgreens has pushed ahead with its efforts to address the problem of "food deserts," or neighborhoods that have a dearth of supermarkets. At a White House event in July, the retailer — in tandem with first lady Michelle Obama — announced a commitment to convert or open at least 1,000 "food oasis" drug stores nationwide over the next five years.

The food oasis stores offer a bigger selection of groceries and fresh food. "With more than 45% of our stores located in areas that don't have ready access to fresh food, we are uniquely positioned to bring more food options to Americans and also provide needed pharmacy, health and wellness services directly to those communities," stated Crawford.

Also, Walgreens has unveiled plans to offer electric vehicle charging stations at about 800 locations across the United States, a move the company expects will make it the nation's largest retail EV host. The charging stations will feature a high-speed direct current (DC) charger that can add 30 miles of range in as little as 10 minutes of charging time, or a Level 2 charger that can add up to 25 miles of range per hour of charge.

The chain has already added EV charging stations to stores in such metropolitan markets as Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago and Washington, D.C., as well as at select stores in Florida, Oregon and Washington.