Walgreens Clinics a Challenge to Doctors

Morning Business Memo…

Walgreens will expand its drugstore clinics to diagnose and treat chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure. The decision is the retail industry's boldest move yet into primary health care. Walgreens says most of its 370 in-store clinics in 18 states will diagnose, treat and monitor patients with chronic conditions that typically are handled by doctors. Drugstore clinics are usually run by nurse practitioners or physician assistants. They have been growing rapidly in recent years, both in locations and services offered.

CVS Caremark, Walgreens' largest competitor, also handles chronic conditions at most of its 640 clinics, but usually does so only after the medical problems have been diagnosed elsewhere. The drugstores say they don't aim to replace doctors, but rather improve care access and supplement a physician's care. Doctors groups warn that the broader role of these clinics can disrupt their relationship with patients and are risky for them. Walgreens is defending its move. "We're not trying to take over primary care, but we think we can help support physicians and transform the way care is delivered to provide more access points at a time when people need it the most," Heather Helle, a division vice president at Walgreens, told Kaiser Health News.

Samsung is throwing down a fresh challenge to Apple by opening boutique "Experience Shops" in more than 1,400 Best Buy stores across the country. According to a Samsung statement, "consumers can explore, purchase, activate and service" its products and accessories beginning this month. Some Best Buy stores will also have "Samsung Experience Consultants" and Best Buy associates to help customers purchase and activate mobile products. The partnership enables Best Buy to do more with the floor space at its large stores. Samsung's move will mean fresh competition for Apple stores which already offer advice and a hands-on experience for shoppers.

A research firm expects Facebook's mobile ad revenue to soar this year, hitting nearly $1 billion after the company started to splice ads into its users' mobile phones and tablets. The forecast comes as Facebook is planning to unveil a new Android product, probably a new phone. The device is believed to deeply integrate Facebook into the Android operating system. The data company EMarketer says it expects Facebook to reap $965 billion in U.S. mobile ad revenue in 2013. That's about 2.5 times the $391 million in 2012, the first year that Facebook started showing mobile ads.

Japan's Central Bank is the latest to hit the accelerator, following in the footsteps of the Federal Reserve. The Bank of Japan says it will massively expand the country's money supply as part of efforts to get the world's third-largest economy out of its slump. The Japanese Central Bank plans to meet an inflation target of 2 percent within two years, heeding demands from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to once and for all end a long spell of deflation that has hindered investment and economic growth. The recent moves led to a sharp decline in the value of the Yen against the US dollar.

Many American workers get false or misleading information about their 401(k) fund options when they switch jobs. The Government Accountability Office - the Congressional watchdog - says the guidance workers receive is either too complex or too general, leaving them vulnerable to financial firms that may try to steer them toward IRAs that have higher fees.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesabc

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