PHARMACY

Maricopa County offers employees onsite health center, pharmacy

BY Antoinette Alexander

PHOENIX Worksite clinics continue to grow in popularity as employers look for ways to curb soaring healthcare costs and instill a renewed focus on employee productivity. Recognizing the benefits such clinics provide, Maricopa County has become the first employer in Arizona to offer an integrated onsite pharmacy and health center through a partnership with Take Care Health Systems.

The new Take Care Health Center and Walgreens pharmacy, located at the downtown County Administration Building, will serve the county’s 12,500 employees and their dependents.

A ribbon cutting ceremony is slated for Jan. 13 in the County Administration Building. Several county officials will be on hand to discuss to the importance of the worksite clinic and pharmacy and its benefit to Maricopa County.

“Any time, but especially during these difficult economic times, it is vitally important for Maricopa County to improve employee health and lower expenses for the county and its employees,” said Mike Schaiberger, director of employee health initiatives and administrator of innovation for Maricopa County. “We expect the integrated Walgreens pharmacy and Take Care Health Center to reduce county costs by $575,000 while improving the health, satisfaction and productivity of our employees.”

The center, which will be staffed by a nurse practitioner who will provide treatment for acute, episodic conditions and administer vaccinations, and the pharmacy will be open Monday through Friday.

“Maricopa County recognizes the benefits a comprehensive onsite health care and pharmacy program can provide to employees, offering both convenience and cost savings,” said Peter Hotz, Walgreens divisional VP and president of Take Care Health Employer Solutions. “We look forward to addressing the county’s health care and pharmaceutical needs while helping to reduce costs and increase employee productivity and satisfaction.”

The county has worked with Walgreens Health Initiatives for more than six years to deliver pharmacy benefit management and other healthcare services to county employees and dependents.

The ideal client for a worksite clinic is an employer with 1,000 or more employees at a site, and, as reported in a recent issue of Drug Store News magazine, industry sources suggest that the market could bear as many as 5,000 worksite clinics.

“We are certainly less than 10 percent of the market right now and if we are the biggest that means there is a heck of a lot of market still left to go in terms of the traditional worksite model,” Hotz told Drug Store News during an interview in fall 2008. Take Care Employer Solutions is the division of Walgreens’ Take Care Health Systems that operates well over 300 worksite clinics.

Also representing an opportunity are those smaller employers who opt to team up to form coalitions to establish and share a facility.

A recent study by global consulting firm Watson Wyatt found that nearly one-third (29 percent) of companies have or plan to have an onsite health center by 2009, up from 27 percent in 2006. A separate Watson Wyatt study of 84 companies with onsite healthcare centers found that reducing medical costs was the chief reason 70 percent of companies have opened a center since 2000 (recent adopters).

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Liquidia partners with Abbott on genetic disease treatment research

BY Alaric DeArment

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Liquidia Technologies and Abbott announced the collaboration Wednesday, in which they will use Liquidia’s PRINT technology to fabricate nanoparticles of precise shape, size and chemistry to shut off genes associated with certain diseases.

“Delivery has been the most significant hurdle to realizing the broad potential of siRNA therapeutics,” Liquidia CEO Neal Fowler said in a statement. “We are very pleased to form a partnership with Abbott, which we hope will enable significant progress in addressing this problem.”

Under the agreement, Liquidia will provide Abbott with certain rights to PRINT technology for developing and commercializing siRNA therapeutics. The two companies did not disclose financial terms.

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PhRMA, health organizations release video ad pushing healthcare reform

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Six organizations representing a broad portion of the U.S. healthcare industry unveiled an advertisement Thursday to promote healthcare reform as a top priority for the incoming Obama Administration and the next Congress.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Regence BlueCross BlueShield, the American Medical Association, the Service Employees International Union, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and Families USA showed the 30-second ad at a press conference at the American Medical Association’s headquarters in Washington Thursday.

The ad focuses on the country’s manufacturing industries, opening with shots of decrepit factories and cobwebbed equipment, followed by shots of working factories with employees. It opens with the line, “At a time when American businesses are hurting, why should we worry about fixing health care? Because quality, affordable health care can save money and make businesses more competitive.”

The organizations plant to run the ad until Feb. 5, possibly later.

“Expanding access to quality and affordable health insurance is good for patients and good for our economy,” PhRMA president and CEO Billy Tauzin said in a statement released with the ad. “Improved access means we can do more to promote prevention and more to detect and treat conditions at an early stage, when we can do the most to avoid poor health outcomes and costly complications of chronic diseases, which account for seven out of every 10 deaths in America.”

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