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BCBS of Florida expands its presence in retail clinic sector

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The news that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida is wading into the retail landscape with the opening of its fourth retail location in Florida is yet one more indication of the important role that convenient care clinics play in today’s U.S. healthcare system.

(THE NEWS: Report: BCBS of Florida gets personal. For the full story, click here)

While the BCBS’ retail locations are not exactly carbon copies of say a Take Care Clinic or MinuteClinic, they are similar in that they are conveniently located; offer flu shots, physical exams, basic cholesterol tests; and have nurses on staff to treat patients. Sound familiar?

And it has been reported that the most recent Florida Blue location in Tampa, which is currently set up as a customer-service center, could actually evolve into a small clinic.

Rival Humana has also stepped into the field in the past two years with its four retail locations in Florida.

Obviously, insurance companies are increasingly taking notice of the success experienced by the convenient care industry and are embracing the role that clinics play in meeting patients’ healthcare needs as health costs soar, physicians find themselves overbooked and emergency rooms overflow.

Serving as yet another indicator of this is news that BCBS of Florida has now contracted with Walgreens’ Take Care Health Systems to cover services for members at all Take Care Clinics in the state of Florida.

With the addition of BCBSF, which covers nearly 4 million of Florida’s insured population, 80% of insured individuals in the state can visit a Take Care Clinic for the cost of a normal co-payment or co-insurance amount.

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URAC gears up for Best Practices Awards

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON The nation’s leading healthcare accreditation and education organization has issued a call for entries for its 2010 Best Practices Awards in Health Care Consumer Empowerment and Protection to find which companies are setting the standard in advancing the role of consumers as active participants in health care.

URAC’s Best Practices Awards recognize the achievements of healthcare companies that are actively pursuing practices to advance consumer empowerment and protection in an exceptional, measurable and reproducible way. Last year’s winners included such innovative companies as CVS Caremark, HealthPartners, Eliza Corp., Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States, and Pro-Change Behavior Systems.

“At a time when everyone is looking for healthcare value, transparency, and accountability, the URAC Best Practices Awards give healthcare organizations an opportunity to showcase best practices and receive recognition for their commitment to engage consumers as partners,” said Alan Spielman, president and CEO of URAC. “We are delighted to honor those who are leading the health care industry through innovation and providing proven practices that advance patient safety and empower consumers.”

Awards will be given in two categories. The Consumer Decision-Making category recognizes practices that educate consumers about their healthcare needs while providing the information, tools, and resources necessary to promote empowerment. These could include health coaching, disease-specific education, or behavior change programs. The Consumer Health Improvement category honors practices that are related to quality improvement in patient safety such as drug therapy management, disease prevention, or care coordination.

The deadline for entries is March 15. To access the online submission form, visit www.urac.org/QualitySummit11/. For questions, e-mail education@urac.org or call 202-216-9010.

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Rite Aid reports drop in same-store sales

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. Rite Aid on Thursday posted a 2.1% decline in same-store sales for the four weeks ended Jan. 23. Total drug store sales for the four-week period decreased 3.3% to $1.9 billion.

Both front-end same-store sales and pharmacy comparable sales were each down 2.1% for the period, while prescriptions filled at comparable stores decreased 1.1%.

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