UnitedHealth Group's growing network of urgent care clinics is opening four locations in Las Vegas as part of an emerging collaboration with pharmacy giant Walgreens.

The new MedExpress clinics will be co-located with Walgreens stores in Las Vegas, the company announced Thursday. MedExpress and Walgreens already have co-located businesses in 11 locations, including three in the Twin Cities.

Executives with both companies have made brief comments to investors in the past week about the pilot program.

"Being connected to Walgreens will enable our patients to receive quality care and purchase any other items they need, all in one trip," said Fred Hinz, a regional vice president with MedExpress, in a statement.

On Monday, a Walgreens executive said during an investor conference that the pharmacy chain is experimenting to see how customers respond to getting services from lab work, optical care and urgent care at the pharmacy.

"We're discovering that almost all of these are getting the right customer reaction," said Alexander Gourlay, co-chief operating officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. "So next phase then is, how do you build the partnerships, the operating model and how do you create this space in a drugstore, so that you can actually put it all together?"

He added: "I think we'd probably need another, maybe another period of time — maybe six months, maybe 18 months — to really understand all these components to get the right business model to be able to scale."

UnitedHealth Group acquired MedExpress in 2015. The company now operates nearly 250 urgent care clinics across the country, including 12 in Minnesota.

During a conference call with investors this week, UnitedHealth Group Chief Executive David Wichmann said the company is experimenting to see if a MedExpress clinic connected to a pharmacy performs as well or better than other locations.

"The results are not near final," Wichmann said.

"We'll evaluate other venues and partners, as well," he added. "This isn't exclusive to any one, in particular."

Christopher Snowbeck • 612-673-4744 Twitter: @chrissnowbeck