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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Pharmacies and insurers are increasingly competing to directly hire doctors and nurse practitioners as they move deeper into primary health care delivery.

Driving the news: The latest example is CVS Health's latest plan to reduce its retail locations as it pours more resources into its digital health delivery and health hub locations.

Why it matters: Primary care is the starting point for all other points of health care. Companies that own more of those interactions are offering convenience to consumers, while also standing to make more money.

The big picture: CVS said earlier this month that it needs to hire doctors to fulfill its vision of becoming a one-stop shop for health care services.

  • Walgreens Boots Alliance also said recently it's investing billions into new clinics.
  • Two major health insurers, UnitedHealth Group and Humana, have increasingly purchased physician offices over the past few years.
  • And even genetic testing firm 23andMe is getting into the mix with its acquisition of Lemonaid Health, a virtual primary care company. 

The state of play: A vast majority of family medicine physicians still work in practices that are owned by a hospital or themselves.

  • But the pandemic prompted people to use non-traditional forms of care, including retail clinics and virtual services, which has spurred companies like CVS and Walgreens to have doctors in those settings.

What they're saying: COVID-19 vaccines and tests had a "halo effect" on retail sales at Walgreens, CEO Roz Brewer told CNBC.

  • "Primary care is a small component of overall medical costs ... but it wields significant influence on the total medical cost picture," CVS CEO Karen Lynch said on the company's last earnings call.
  • Lynch also added the company, which owns health insurer Aetna, is steering Aetna members toward CVS' clinics.

The bottom line: The gold rush for doctors and advanced clinicians is about meeting patients where they are in an attempt to capture more consumer health care and retail dollars.

Go deeper

Feb 25, 2019 - Technology

Genetic testing firms share your DNA data more than you think

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Genetic testing companies that trace customers' ancestry are amassing huge databases of DNA information, and some are sharing access with law enforcement, drug makers and app developers.

Why it matters: At-home DNA testing kits are soaring in popularity, but many consumers who take the tests to learn more about their family trees may not realize how that data is being shared for other purposes.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 years in prison

An anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar.Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images

A Myanmar court sentenced the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Monday to four years in prison on charges of "inciting public unrest" and breaking COVID-19 protocols, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the first of several verdicts that could result in the 76-year-old Nobel laureate being imprisoned for the rest of her life. The 11 charges she faces have been widely criticised as politically motivated.

5 hours ago - World

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"