Walgreens To Expand Mental Health Services

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By Bruce JapsenCONTRIBUTOR

I write about health care and policies from the president’s hometown

May 10, 2016

Original Article Published on Forbes.com

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Walgreens Boots Alliance will expand mental health services, including access to behavioral health treatment via telemedicine, to expand customer options for treatment, screenings and awareness, the company announced today.

About one in five Americans suffer mental health conditions, which is greater than medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease. But patient adherence to prescriptions is worse for mental health conditions than physical illnesses, so Walgreens sees its army of pharmacists and nurse practitioners having an impact.

“In mental health, in particular, adherence (to prescriptions) is a major, major challenge,” Walgreens chief medical officer Dr. Harry Leider said in an interview.

Less than 50% of Americans who are prescribed medications to treat mental health conditions take them as directed, if at all, Walgreens said. “Pharmacies have always been oriented around supporting patients who are on medications for mental health conditions, but we are providing even more training around medication issues,” Leider said.

The expansion of mental health services is the latest push by drugstore giants like Walgreens, CVS Health CVS +0.50% and Walmart to push further beyond a pharmacy chain’s traditional role of dispensing and managing customer prescription needs.

To improve mental health treatment, Walgreens will offer access to 1,000 therapists and psychiatrists via Breakthrough, an MDLive telemedicine company . Walgreens 18 months ago began a relationship with MDLive, a telemedicine company, to provide customers with around-the-clock access to physicians.

 

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