PHARMACY

Focus on chronic care increases patient visits

BY DSN STAFF

While the first retail clinics began to enter chronic disease management going back as early as 2010, these efforts have been ramped up considerably in recent years as payers look more aggressively to lower costs and health systems look to drive improved patient outcomes.

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“Retailers are increasing their service offerings to include health screenings and chronic care programs,” noted the April 2015 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report, “Building a culture of health: The value proposition of retail clinics.”

The report noted several key examples, including the following:

CVS MinuteClinic: Diabetes management services, including, glucose, hemoglobin A1C, blood pressure, weight management, and foot exams, as well as asthma maintenance therapy. In addition, the RWJF report also noted a partnership between MinuteClinic and Emory Healthcare to develop a series of protocols for hypertension evaluation, treatment and management to be used at Emory and MinuteClinic.

Walgreens Health Clinics: Assessment and management for diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and asthma.

ShopRite/QCare Clinic: Operates a behavioral health-screening kiosk in a store in an underserved Philadelphia community to help identify potential at-risk patients and provide referrals as needed.

“The increased focus on chronic care has resulted in a rise in the percentage of visits for screening and management of chronic conditions at [Walgreens Healthcare Clinics] from 4% in 2007 to 17% in 2013,” noted the RWJF report.

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Dialing up telehealth

BY DSN STAFF

Another critical lever in the drive to lower costs and expand access to quality care is the telehealth model.

“Average telehealth costs are $40 to $50 compared to $136 to $176 for a related in-person visit, while the most common diagnoses made during telehealth visits are sinusitis, cold, flu, pertussis and urinary tract infections,” according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation April 2015 report, “Building a culture of health: The value proposition.”

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In July, the HealthSpot telehealth station went live in 25 Rite Aid stores in Ohio, in the Akron/Canton, Cleveland and Dayton/Springfield markets.

In December 2014, Walgreens and MDLive first introduced their joint telehealth venture, initially launching in California and Michigan. According to Forbes, the two plan to have the service available in 25 states by the end of the year.

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Consumers visit retail clinics for convenience

BY DSN STAFF

Long before payers, large insurers and health systems got on board, consumers were already voting for retail clinics “with their feet,” as patient visits steadily climbed over the years. According to research conducted by Rand Corp., retail clinic traffic doubled each year between 2007 and 2009, to 6 million patient visits a year. Since then, the number has risen to more than 10.5 million in 2014 and rising, according to various estimates.

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And there is a good reason for that. Patients by and large genuinely liked the experience. As early as 2008, customer satisfaction rates were extremely high right out of the gates, with consumers reporting a high rate of satisfaction with both the convenience (93%) and quality of care (90%) they received in retail clinics, according to a Wall Street Journal online/Harris Interactive poll conducted that year. Industry leader MinuteClinic, which counts more than 25 million patient visits since its first retail clinic location opened in 2000, reports customer satisfaction ratings of 95%.

Initially, “sick visits” (cold, flu, etc.) and vaccinations drove the bulk of these visits, but according to new research, as clinics have been able to expand their scope of services, the reasons patients use clinics also has expanded. According to recent data from Kalorama, while vaccinations (74%) and cold-flu (55%) were still the dominant drivers of patient visits, nearly one-third of consumers (32%) said they actually visited a retail clinic for a prescription renewal.

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