As consumers in US combat rising healthcare costs, the collaboration between the health care and the tech industries could make health care delivery more affordable and accessible. In a huge deal, Microsoft and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA), the second-biggest pharmacy chain in the US, have entered into a 7-year alliance to deliver “new health care delivery” platforms.

The companies will integrate the power of Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud and AI platform, health care investments, and new retail solutions with WBA’s customer reach, convenient locations, outpatient health care services and industry expertise to enable next-gen health networks, integrated digital-physical experiences and care management solutions.

The companies didn’t divulge any financial terms of the deal.

If all goes as planned, the move could help WBA fend off competition from Amazon, which has reportedly plans to open 3,000 Go convenience stores across the US by 2021.

Multiyear R&D
The duo committed to a multiyear research and development investment to build health care solutions, improve health outcomes and lower the cost of care. The companies also plan to establish joint innovation centers in key markets.

Additionally, in 2019 WBA will pilot up to 12 store-in-store “digital health corners” aimed at the merchandising and sale of select health care-related hardware and devices.

WBA to migrate IT platforms to Microsoft
As part of this agreement, WBA plans to migrate the majority of the company’s IT infrastructure onto Microsoft Azure. This will include new transformational platforms in retail, pharmacy and business services, new capability in data and analytics, as well as certain legacy applications and systems.

The company also plans to roll out Microsoft 365 to more than 380,000 employees and stores globally.

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