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Clinic operators tout quality care after AMA complaint

BY DSN STAFF

Since the emergence of in-store health clinics in 2000, operators have stressed the need to work in harmony with the local medical community to provide consumers with much-needed convenient and affordable healthcare services. This, however, has not stopped some within the medical community from rocking the boat in hopes of overturning—or at least shaking up—the new healthcare model.

Among the most profound developments in recent months is the American Medical Association’s announcement in late June that it will push for state and federal agencies to conduct investigations of convenient care clinics for potential conflicts of interest posed by joint ventures between store-based health clinics and pharmacy retailers.

“There are clear incentives for retailers to participate in the implementation and operation of store-based health clinics,” stated AMA board member Peter Carmel. “The nation’s physicians want the AMA to ensure these incentives do not compromise the basic obligation of store-based health clinics to provide patients with quality care.”

The move undoubtedly took the convenient care industry by surprise.

“The CCA partners with all healthcare providers, including physicians, to create an integrated model of healthcare delivery in America,” said Tine Hansen-Turton, executive director of the Convenient Care Association, the nonprofit organization for the convenient care industry. “We are surprised that the AMA would take the position that it has, because so many physicians and other healthcare professionals have accepted this new model and see it as part of the solution to our broken healthcare system.”

Added Michael Howe, chief executive officer of MinuteClinic, which is a subsidiary of CVS Caremark, “We are extremely disappointed with the action taken by the AMA to maintain the status quo in a healthcare system that is considered by all to be broken. The concerns about quality of care are clearly unfounded when the facts and our track record are considered. The claim that retail-based clinics are steering prescriptions is also false.”

Furthermore, the CCA unveiled in March at the Retail Health Clinic Summit presented by Drug Store News mandatory standards that, according to Hal Rosenbluth, chairman of Take Care Health Systems, senior strategy for health care for Walgreens and president of the CCA, go “well beyond” those suggested by such major medical bodies as the AMA, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Family Physicians.

The standards include, but are not limited to: All CCA members are required to build relationships with traditional healthcare providers and hospitals, and work toward a goal of using electronic health records to share patient information and ensure continuity of care; and CCA members must encourage patients to establish a relationship with a primary care provider.

On the heels of AMA’s announcement, Web Golinkin, president and chief executive officer of clinic operator RediClinic, wrote a commentary that ran in The Wall Street Journal online edition, advocating the benefits of the convenient care industry.

“Opposition to convenient care from some parts of the medical community is made under the pretext of wanting to ensure quality and continuity of care, which is a legitimate but thus far unfounded concern. But the opposition is also about wanting to maintain the status quo even in the face of rapidly escalating costs and a growing shortage of primary-care physicians,” wrote Golinkin, who also serves as director and co-founder of the CCA. “While resistance to disruptive change is understandable, it does not diminish the fact that the status quo in health care is not working for millions of consumers and that it is economically unsustainable even if it were. Instead of opposing convenient care, physicians should be working collaboratively with operators—as many physicians are today—to fill the critical need that all Americans share for easier access to high-quality, affordable health care.”

Several members of the convenient care industry have said they would reach out to the AMA in hopes of addressing any concerns.

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Kroger appoints Going as Michigan division president

BY Adam Kraemer

CINCINNATI The Kroger Co. announced Wednesday that it has named Rick Going president of the company’s new Michigan division.

Kroger currently operates 138 stores in the state; Going will oversee operations in them, effective immediately.

During his 26-year tenure with Kroger, Going has held a number of district- and division-level leadership positions at the store and has served as vice president of Retail Operations and vice president of Merchandising for Kroger’s Cincinnati/Dayton division.

“Rick brings extensive experience in operations and merchandising to this new role,” said Don McGeorge, Kroger’s president and chief operating officer. “We look forward to his leadership as he works with our associates to build on Kroger’s growth in Michigan by focusing on our customers to create even better shopping experiences for them.”

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NACDS responds to “misleading” New York Times article

BY DSN STAFF

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has fired back at The New York Times after the publication ran an article in its Sept. 18 issue titled, “The ‘Poisonous Cocktail’ of Multiple Drugs.”

The NACDS said the article misrepresented the role of chain pharmacies in the prevention of harmful drug interactions. The article blamed, “places where chain stores have replaced independent pharmacies or when the patient’s drug plan requires that medications be ordered by mail.” The NACDS retaliated by stating that all pharmacists, no matter whether they work in a chain or at an independent pharmacy, counsel patients for drug interactions and rely on medication information for this purpose.

The NACDS said the article misrepresented the role of chain pharmacies in the prevention of harmful drug interactions. The article blamed, “places where chain stores have replaced independent pharmacies or when the patient’s drug plan requires that medications be ordered by mail.” The NACDS retaliated by stating that all pharmacists, no matter whether they work in a chain or at an independent pharmacy, counsel patients for drug interactions and rely on medication information for this purpose.

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