Giants in technology and neighborhood retail pharmacy have their eyes on the clouds and boots on the ground as they get ready to shake up global healthcare. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) CEO Stefano Pessina jointly announced an effort to improve health care delivery and results while slashing costs.
The partners’ goal is “to make health care delivery more personal, affordable, and accessible for people around the world.” Each company brings big guns to this campaign. On Microsoft’s part, the Redmond, Washington company will use the power of Microsoft Azure (its cloud and AI platform) plus its health care investments and new retail solutions. WBA’s contributions to the cause include its customer base, widespread and convenient locations, outpatient health care services, and the overall industry expertise.
According to the joint statement, Microsoft and WBA responded to both “the need and the opportunity to fully integrate the [healthcare] system.” They noted recent healthcare innovations within the current mix of “public- and private-sector organizations providers, payors, pharmaceutical companies, and other adjacent players.” The forces have set out to innovate the whole system, including “next-generation” health networks, integrated digital-physical experiences, and care management solutions.”
Microsoft’s Nadella spoke of “putting people at the center of their health and wellness.” WBA’s Pessina said the intention is “creating integrated, next-generation, digitally enabled health care delivery solutions for our customers, transforming our stores into modern neighborhood health destinations and expanding customer offerings.”
The collaboration’s intent is to work with payors and providers to leverage the information about patients to deliver “greater value and better health outcomes in health care systems across the world.”
The project will use information management, communication with digital devices, personalized health care services, and collaborative agreements with other stakeholders. Microsoft is going to migrate most of Walgreen’s IT infrastructure into Azure.
So this joint venture is even bigger than the CVS and Aetna merger because involves the largest retail pharmacy across the U.S. and Europe with the world leader in digital transformation. The WBA and Microsoft goal statements are lofty and laudable, appropriate for the most major of major players. It will be interesting to watch how their efforts progress during the next years and, likely, decades.