The Star Tribune reports on the potential effect of 30 million new insured Americans that could begin shopping for more health care in 2014, as a result of the new health care law. Retail-based health providers like CVS Caremark (which owns the Minnesota-founded Minute Clinic) and Target Corp.’sown Target Clinics could see an influx of new business — though not everybody’s convinced, noting that many uninsured people go to such places anyway.
Still, you can’t blame the businesses for hoping. The retail-health sector is clearly growing in terms of investment — their numbers jumped 11 percent in 2011 after a couple of slow years, The New York Times reported — but the sector is still bedeviled by a seasonality that approaches that of a school-uniform store.
The number of patients visiting retail clinics has rocketed from 1.48 million in 2006 to 5.97 million in 2009 — more than a fourfold increase, according to a new study from Health Affairs.
The study is based on information for 2007 through 2009 from MinuteClinic, Take Care and Little Clinic. These are the three largest retail clinic operators in the United States, comprising 81 percent of the industry.
Here are some major takeaways from the study.
- About 65 percent of retail clinic patients do not have a primary care physician, but about 71 percent have Medicare, Medicaid or commercial health insurance.
- In 2006, 21.8 percent of clinic visits were for preventive care. That more than doubled in 2007 to 47.5 percent. The portion of visits for vaccines alone also more-than doubled, in that time span, growing from 19.7 percent to 40.8 percent.
- October and November were peak months for the number of clinic visits, mostly due to flu vaccinations.
- About 44 percent of retail clinic visits occurred when physician offices were likely to be closed, including weekday evenings or weekends.
Whereas convenient care clinics are health care facilities located in high-traffic retail outlets that provide affordable and accessible care to patients who have little time to schedule an appointment with a traditional primary care provider or are otherwise unable to schedule such an appointment;
Whereas millions of people in the United States do not have a primary care provider, and there is a worsening primary care provider shortage that will prevent many people from obtaining one in the future;
Whereas convenient care clinics have provided an accessible alternative for more than 15,000,000 people in the United States since the first clinic opened in 2000, the number of convenient care clinics continues to increase rapidly, and as of June 2012, there are approximately 1,350 convenient care clinics in 35 States;
Whereas convenient care clinics follow rigid industry-wide quality of care and safety standards;
Whereas convenient care clinics are staffed by highly qualified health care providers, including advanced practice nurses, physician assistants, and physicians;
Whereas convenient care clinicians all have advanced education in providing quality health care for common episodic ailments including cold and flu, skin irritation, and muscle strains and sprains, and can also provide immunizations, physicals, and preventive health screening;
Whereas convenient care clinics are proven to be a cost-effective alternative to similar treatment obtained in physicians’ offices, urgent care clinics, or emergency departments; and
Whereas convenient care clinics complement traditional medical service providers by providing extended weekday and weekend hours without the need for an appointment, short wait times, and visits that generally last only 15 to 20 minutes: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate–
- designates the week of August 6 through August 10, 2012, as “National Convenient Care Clinic Week”;
- supports the goals and ideals of National Convenient Care Clinic Week to raise awareness of the need for accessible and cost-effective health care options to complement the traditional health care model;
- recognizes that many people in the United States face difficulties accessing traditional models of health care delivery;
- supports the use of convenient care clinics as an adjunct to the traditional model of health care delivery; and
- calls on the States to support the establishment of convenient care clinics so that more people in the United States will have access to the cost-effective and necessary emergent and preventive services provided in the clinics.
Source: The Library of Congress
If you thought it was hard getting a doctor’s appointment now, just wait until 30 million more Americans join the line.
Nearly 3 in 4 California counties already lack a sufficient number of family physicians, and by 2020 the U.S. faces an estimated shortage of 40,000 primary-care doctors with no way to remedy that in just a few years.
As a result, more consumers may soon find themselves getting their checkups and help in managing their high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes at the local pharmacy orWal-Mart as the Affordable Care Act extends health insurance to 30 million people and puts unprecedented strain on an already fragile network of primary care.
Pharmacy giant CVS Caremark Corp., Target Corp. and other retailers are aiming to help alleviate the doctor shortage with hundreds of walk-in clinics run by nurses to treat ear infections and other routine ailments and increasingly help people suffering from chronic illnesses. These companies, after struggling to turn a profit from these clinics for the last decade, are now eager to capitalize on an influx of newly insured patients.
Source: Los Angeles Times
For years, there’s been a debate about how walk-in clinics at stores fit into the health care mix. Are they an adequate substitute for a visit to the doctor?
Through it all, the number of clinics has kept growing, numbering 1,355 at the beginning of 2012, a 10.4 percent annual increase, according to consultants Merchant Medicine.
In recent years, walk-in health clinics have become commonplace in groceries and drugstores as well as at retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target. The clinics regularly treat acute problems such as strep throat and ear infections, but many are also adding primary care and preventive services such as physical exams and chronic disease monitoring.
In 2009 the Rand Corp. compared care and costs for treating three common illnesses in different settings. In that study, retail clinics cost at least 30 percent less than physicians’ offices, urgent care centers and emergency departments, while the quality of care was at least as good.
Read the entire article here.
The growing number of retail walk-in clinics has created new workplace options for nurse practitioners. According to the Convenient Care Association, there are now more than 1,350 retail walk-in clinics in the U.S.
“Our clinics offer affordable, accessible and … high-quality health care,” says Paulette Thabault, Chief Nurse Practitioner Officer for MinuteClinic, a division of CVS Caremark Corporation, the largest pharmacy health care provider in the United States. “CVS has 600 MinuteClinics in 25 states and is adding about 100 new clinics each year,” she notes.
These and other retail walk-in clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners, as well as some physicians’ assistants. Nurse practitioners are board-certified nursing professionals who diagnose and treat illnesses. They have advanced education and training and master’s degrees in the science of nursing.
As of June 1, there were 1,357 retail clinics in operation in the United States, eight fewer clinics than were in operation on May 1, according to the June ConvUrgentCare Report by Merchant Medicine.
During the month of June, 10 retail clinics closed and two opened. Closed clinics included three clinics operated by Intermountain ExpressCare in Utah, six operated by Avanti Medical Group in the Chicago and Minneapolis area and one Clinic at Walmart in Benton, Ky.
CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic operates the most retail clinics across the country with 555 clinics, followed by Walgreen’s Take Care Clinics, with 360 locations.
Source: Becker’s Hospital Review
The retail-based health clinic is not a new phenomenon or a passing fad. These clinics continue to pop up – often in drugstores – and look to be a new element of the health care landscape, particularly among those looking for timely attention to medical problems.
The convenient-care concept has even gotten a favorable recommendation from theJournal of the American Medical Association.
In an issue published late last month, JAMA noted that retail clinics provide a more cost-effective alternative to emergency rooms “or other high-cost settings where care is not personalized and is extremely expensive – especially for simple problems.”
Source: Beyond the Pill
Hmm, physicians have extensive training and clinical experience. The dangers of retail clinics are many. Without sufficient training, one often does not know when we are in trouble. ”Simple problems” are usually simple, but not always. We function in the short head, but must recognize the long tail problems.
Source: db’s Medical Rants
An article recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shed a highly positive light on the convenient care industry, and outlined significant ways in which retail-based clinics are playing an important role in today’s U.S. healthcare system by improving access, cost and coordination of care for patients.
In looking at access to care — which is exacerbated by the shortage of primary care physicians — and cost of care, the article, written by Christine K. Cassel, M.D., with the American Board of Internal Medicine in Philadelphia, stated that retail-based health clinics provide a solution as they can provide patients with timely, convenient and cost-effective access to care.
The article also pointed to a third significant challenge facing the U.S. healthcare system today: coordination of care, especially for those patients with multiple chronic conditions. “Lack of coordination is thought to cost the healthcare system billions of dollars. To date, this has not been a major area of expertise or availability of retail clinics but, as they consider a role in chronic care, it is coming into focus. Indeed, chronic care plans are an increasingly important priority for retail health clinics,” the article stated.
Source: Drug Store News
A panel at the annual meeting of the American Telemedicine Association in San Jose, Calif., this week described retail- and employer- based clinics as major emerging forces in healthcare reform. Panel participants discussed how retail clinics will prosper under reform as low-cost sites and how connecting them with other providers will be critical to reform’s goal of care coordination and lower costs.
As employer- and retail-based clinics continue to grow, health IT professionals will be called upon to link their data with other providers. This integration will allow these low-cost providers to connect and collaborate with other providers. “The next round of growth will involve electronically linking thousands of retail clinics, pharmacies and independently-owned and operated primary care offices to a small number of medical centers of excellence using telemedicine technologies and computer information,” said Ronald L. Hammerle, the founder and chairman of Health Resources, a Tampa-based health systems development company.
Source: Becker’s Hospital Review