A newly announced retail clinic partnership between Providence Health & Services and Walgreens will place care coordination, chronic care and interconnected electronic health records at the center of the effort.

Providence, in its first foray into the retail clinic arena, intends to integrate the 25 planned clinics into its primary care model and will staff the clinics with its own advanced practice nurse providers. The move comes after Providence brought in non-health care experts to assist with its intention to be a disruptor of how health care is provided. CVS Health and other retail chains are working to expand their reach in primary care through both retail and urgent care operations.

The Providence and Walgreens clinics initially will be in the Portland, Ore., area, where they will be called Providence Express Care at Walgreens, and in Seattle, where they will be called Swedish Express Care at Walgreens. But there is room for expansion within those states or in other West Coast areas where Providence operates, says Mike Waters, senior vice president of physician services at Providence.

Waters says Providence and Walgreens will use what it is calling an innovative collaborative service model that is more advanced than what is traditionally thought of as retail clinic care. "It allows us to have a different level of service provided at the site," Waters says. For example, "we're going to be eager to get the pharmacist engaged in the visits," he says.

"We're also not looking at just episodic issues," Water says. An instance of that would be a diabetic patient, who may visit a Walgreens 20-25 times per year, creating a chance to expand care. "If we have an opportunity to touch those patients in a meaningful ways over that time, as opposed to those three to four visits when we see them in our clinic, we can really improve their health," he said.

The two partners are still developing how they'll implement chronic care programs into the clinics under a jointly staffed governance team.