In a thoughtful and well-considered effort to remain competitive in the pharmacy game, retailer Walgreens has joined forces with the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide servicemen and -women with more comprehensive care. The alliance dubbed the “VA-Walgreens Exchange,” will allow the VA doctors to view and manage their patients’ prescriptions when the orders are filled at Walgreens. This will help the physicians when it comes to tracking medical history and immunization records, thereby streamlining the process and making life easier for the veterans, as well as the doctors and pharmacists.

While the partnership serves to benefit veterans, Walgreens president of pharmacy and retail operations Richard Ashworth hopes that it might be useful in stemming the tide of the opioid crisis as well. It’s essential for patients to receive the care that they need, and this includes safe and reliable access to prescription drugs; however, it’s just as important to track the dosages and ensure that the proper protocol is being followed. The system could also be useful in alleviating any potentially dangerous drug interactions.

According to sources at the VA, this alliance is not the department’s first collaboration with Walgreens. For the past five years, the pharmacy department has offered free flu shots to veterans, as well as a program designed to educate the population on the importance of timely vaccination. What the VA-Walgreens Exchange will do is free up valuable time, as the physicians will now have access to the prescription information without having to ask the patient about it during the examination. As anyone in the medical profession can attest, more time translates into more comprehensive patient care, and therefore better health overall.

With online giant Amazon’s recent acquisition of PillPack, a web-based pharmacy, stores like CVS and Walgreens are struggling to remain competitive. More and more consumers are turning to the Internet to serve an increasing variety of needs, which is enough to make any brick-and-mortar company feel the heat. Fortunately, the human connection is something that will always remain crucial when it comes to health care. That’s something that all of the competitors should bear in mind as they look into the future. With the VA-Walgreens Exchange, the retailer is protecting its own interests while working to provide a vital service to the nation’s veterans.