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In an interview with the New York Times Walgreen president/COO Gregory D. Wasson said that the company plans to increase its commitment to retail and employer medical clinics.

“There are millions of Americans going to emergency rooms for care for common ailments we’re able to treat in our clinics,” Wasson says. “We feel there’s a huge cost reduction available to treat those types of conditions. We feel there’s opportunity to be a big part of this nation’s health care solution by providing nurse practitioners in our retail stores.”

In addition, Wasson notes that employers have the opportunity to use medical clinics as a way of being both more efficient and effective.

“Employers across the country are looking for ways to lower their health care costs and deliver better employee benefits,” he says. “This is a way for an employer to do both. The employer has absolutely no access to the patient records that we care for on their campus. We’re looking to have 800 retail and employer retail clinics open by the end of calendar year 2009.”

KC's View:
There’s no question that Walgreen sees these clinics as one way to generate sales that will help it survive the current economic downturn. But I think it also is a smart long-term play that will help the company develop more cemented relationships with consumers that have the potential to extend beyond the recession.