HEALTH

Quality of care found at retail clinics shouldn’t be questioned

BY Jim Frederick

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Retail pharmacy operators continue to expand their presence in the burgeoning market for retail-based walk-in clinics, and the services those convenient-care centers provide. And there’s growing evidence that the nation’s overwrought, cash-crunched healthcare system desperately needs those services in a time of dwindling resources, overworked primary care physicians and unsustainable cost hikes.

(THE NEWS: Take Care Health Systems’ treatment of pharyngitis, upper respiratory infections exceeds national quality benchmarks. For the full story, click here)

Indeed, the more than 1,100 in-store clinics opened by the nation’s drug, supermarket and mass-merchant pharmacy retailers over the past decade are providing a critical service, much the way a steam pressure valve keeps a boiler from exploding. And the quality of care now is beyond dispute.

To the few remaining critics who still question the value of in-store retail clinics and the level of care provided by the nurse practitioners and other health professionals who staff them, Walgreens gave another answer on Monday. The answer came from its Take Care Health Systems subsidiary, which operates more than 700 in-store clinics and worksite health centers.

According to the company, the more than 350 Take Care Clinics within its drug stores exceeded national quality benchmarks for their treatment of pharyngitis and upper respiratory infections, as measured by the Jefferson School of Population Health.

The reasons are easy enough to fathom, and they go to the heart of the mission that community pharmacies and in-store clinics say they’re in business to provide: quality, patient-focused care. Take Care professionals, according to the Jefferson study, demonstrated a patient-centric focus both at the time of initial contact between patient and professional, and afterward, when all patients receive a follow-up call within 48 hours of the visit.

The announcement came fast on the heels of other news on the healthcare front for the nation’s largest drug chain. On Oct. 7, Walgreens revealed it is working with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases to educate the public and health professionals about flu prevention resources. The company also has joined with Families Fighting Flu, a nonprofit organization of families and healthcare practitioners, to heighten flu awareness and encourage vaccinations for children and families.

In all, Walgreens said it plans to administer no fewer than 15 million flu shots during the flu season of late 2010 and early 2011.

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HEALTH

Joy and Eve Behar join heart disease awareness campaign

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK Bayer Consumer Care and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease on Wednesday partnered with Joy Behar, co-host of the morning program “The View,” and her daughter Eve Behar around an awareness campaign to alert women that being prepared for a possible heart attack can help save their lives.

Preparedness includes recognizing the sometimes-subtle warning signs and keeping aspirin on hand to help reduce damage to the heart. To that end, the Behars, the Bayer aspirin brand and WomenHeart will be offering a special-edition pill tote with a convenient key ring that makes it easy to always have aspirin on hand.

“I’ve experienced firsthand the devastating impact that heart disease can have on a family when left unchecked, and I’ve learned that, when a heart attack strikes, your first line of defense is having an aspirin on hand to help reduce damage to the heart,” Joy Behar said. “This is especially important for women, who are less likely than men to survive [a heart attack] and are more likely to have a second attack. Being prepared can offer women and their families that second chance to embrace a heart-healthy lifestyle.”

Individuals can obtain a pill tote by visiting IAmProHeart.com and making a $5 donation to WomenHeart. For each donation, Bayer will make a matching donation of $5 to WomenHeart, up to a maximum of $100,000. These donations will help fund educational programming and outreach that enable women with heart disease to share their experiences, lessons learned and personal stories of courage and survival with other women who have or are at risk for developing heart disease.

“It’s so important for women to know their risk for heart disease, and to talk to their doctor about ways to be better prepared and better their odds of surviving should a heart attack strike without warning,” stated Karol Watson, chair of the WomenHeart scientific advisory council and co-director of the program in preventative cardiology at UCLA.

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Hyperglycemia could cause Type 2 diabetes in acutely ill patients, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Heightened blood sugar during critical illnesses could be a sign of risk for Type 2 diabetes, according to a recent study by researchers in Croatia.

 

The study, conducted by researchers at University Hospital Centre Rebro and published in the journal Critical Care, followed 591 patients for five years after their discharge, dividing them into a group of 398 who had normal blood sugar levels during their hospital stays, and a group of 193 who developed hyperglycemia during their stays. Of the patients with normal blood sugar, 14 developed Type 2 diabetes, while among those who had hyperglycemia, 33 developed the disease.

 

 

“Despite the fact that endocrine and metabolic changes probably occur in all acutely ill patients, evident hyperglycemia is not always present,” lead researcher Ivan Gornik said. “We hypothesized that hospital-acquired hyperglycemia can therefore reveal a patient’s predisposition to impaired glucose control, which could in [the] future lead to diabetes.”

 

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