Walgreens Boots Alliance and Microsoft form digital health link

Walgreens Boots Alliance and Microsoft have entered a seven-year agreement to form a strategic partnership to build digital healthcare solutions.

The companies say they are joining forces to develop new healthcare delivery models, technology and retail innovations. The intent is to combine Microsoft’s Azure cloud and AI platform—as well as its ability to make healthcare investments and retail solutions—with Walgreeens’ customer reach, retail pharmacy locations, outpatient services and industry expertise.

As part of the strategic partnership, the companies have committed to a multiyear research and development investment to build healthcare solutions, improve health outcomes and lower the cost of care. This investment will include funding, subject matter experts, technology and tools.

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A customer enters a Walgreen Co. store in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Friday, March 23, 2012. Walgreen Co. is scheduled to release earnings data on March 27. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

The companies will also explore the potential to establish joint innovation centers in key markets. Additionally, in 2019 Walgreens will pilot as many as 12 store-in-store “digital health corners” aimed at the merchandising and sale of select healthcare-related hardware and devices.

Through this agreement, Microsoft becomes Walgreens strategic cloud provider, and the chain plans to migrate most of the company’s IT infrastructure onto Microsoft Azure. This will include new transformational platforms in retail, pharmacy and business services, new capability in data and analytics, as well as certain legacy applications and systems.

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