Senator Calls on Walgreens to Protect Patient Information

In the wake of a recent report finding risk to patient privacy, drug security and public health at a new type of Walgreens pharmacy, Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) has penned a letter to the company questioning the model.

These “Well Experience” stores place the pharmacist out-in-front of their traditional work area, often leaving no pharmacist in the room where prescriptions are traditionally filled. The study found that this practice carries potential risks for consumers. For example, sensitive, HIPAA-protected patient information, such as medical history, was left unattended or unsecured in 80% of store visits.

Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, writes:

“I understand and support the goal of making pharmacists more accessible to patients for counseling and other services. However, I remain concerned that placing the pharmacist’s workstation in a public area may result in violations of patients’ health privacy rights.” 

Read coverage of Senator Markey’s letter to Walgreens here.

Senator Markey has asked Walgreens to respond  to specific questions about the model, including:

  •  Has Walgreens done the required assessment of how the new ‘Well Experience’ design and workflow could impact patient  privacy and data security?
  •  Has Walgreens put in place additional training requirements for its staff that address the security of prescription data and  medications, and the privacy of conversations between pharmacists and patients?
  •  What steps has Walgreens taken to ensure the new pharmacy model does not decrease the security of prescription drugs?
  •  What safeguards has Walgreens put in place to protect private health information on mobile devices?
  •  Has Walgreens put in place policies and procedures to respond to a member of the public if a concern is raised as a result of the  new model?

The report examined Well Experience pharmacies in Indiana, Florida, and Illinois–although Walgreens is looking to implement the model in a growing number of states.

Have you visited a Well Experience pharmacy, or have concerns about the new model coming to your state? Send us a message.