Retail clinics continue to gain strong momentum amid changing healthcare landscape
In light of the demand for more accessible and affordable healthcare services as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the primary care provider shortage and an aging baby boomer population, the vital role that retail-based health clinics can play in helping patients live healthier lives is hard to deny.
The spotlight on the 1,600-plus convenient care clinics located throughout the country continues to shine even brighter. In fact, just this past week alone, a string of significant clinic news made headlines.
It is important to note that the news hit the wires as clinic practitioners and clinic operators gathered in Minneapolis for the seventh annual Retail Clinician Education Congress. The Drug Store News Group, in conjunction with the Convenient Care Association and Partners in Healthcare Education, hosts the three-day educational and networking forum.
On Thursday, CVS Caremark announced that it has entered into new clinical affiliations with four regional health systems — Hartford HealthCare in Connecticut; Memorial Health in Georgia, and Lahey Health and Baystate Health in Massachusetts. What makes these affiliations especially important is that they mark the first clinical affiliations to include clinical collaborations with MinuteClinic combined with data on interventions performed by CVS pharmacists. Through these clinical affiliations, the patients of these health systems will receive access to clinical support, medication counseling, chronic disease monitoring, and wellness programs at CVS/pharmacy stores and MinuteClinic
Meanwhile, health officials have given CVS Caremark the green light to open seven MinuteClinic locations in its home state of Rhode Island, with imposed conditions.
Also on Thursday, it was announced that the clinical collaboration between Community Health Network and Walgreens is expanding across central Indiana. Seven additional Healthcare Clinics at select Walgreens sites are being integrated with Community Health Network to provide additional points of access for consumers.
What does it all mean? Not only does this mean greater access to convenient health care for patients, but also further illustrates the demand and need for such clinics within today’s strained U.S. healthcare system — a need that is being recognized by lawmakers, payors, providers and patients.
The convenient care industry will continue to grow and industry observers can expect to hear more — a lot more — of this type of news as we head further into 2014.
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Survey: Nearly one-third of consumers can’t identify their loyalty tier
CINCINNATI — Nearly one-third (32%) of United States and Canadian consumers can’t identify which tier they belong to in their favorite loyalty rewards programs, according to a study recently released by Colloquy. Colloquy’s research reveals that the familiar gold, silver and bronze tiering system no longer works. The study shows the three-tiered structure is outdated as a way for brands to keep their customers engaged — sometimes creating confusion rather than inspiring loyalty.
The lack of awareness of basic tier status is a key finding in "Fears for Tiers: 2014 Colloquy Study on Membership Status in Loyalty Programs."
“Savvy shoppers and travelers are all too aware of the recent onslaught of changes to rewards programs,” said Jeff Berry, study author and Colloquy research director. “Brands want to revive consumer engagement simply by updating rewards, but that exacerbates confusion about tier levels and can impose so many limitations that upward movement is perceived as unattainable.”
The Colloquy tiering research sheds light on a key gender difference. Hard benefits, such as monetary or cash rewards, are more likely to motivate women (84%) than men (81%). The positive feeling of reaching a higher tier status is stronger for men (39%) than women (33%).
Approximately 3-in-4 consumers said it’s acceptable for businesses to give special treatment to members of their loyalty programs. And 69% of survey respondents said it’s fair for customers to purchase a higher tier membership if they want to receive the same benefits as those who earned their status through program participation.
In other findings:
- 50% of survey respondents said they have increased their spending or changed other purchasing behavior in order to achieve a higher tier status in a rewards program;
- 33% of low-tier members do not think they are properly acknowledged for their participation in a program, even though they participate whenever possible; and
- Non-travel program members are almost twice as likely as those in travel programs to be unsure of their tier level (34% to 16%).
Study findings are based on a February 2014 survey of 3,077 U.S. and Canadian consumers.
I have a novel idea. Since we all know that loyalty programs are just another way to gather information on consumers and how to entice them to buy more, why don't we just buy what we need, when we can afford it, pay a reasonable price for it, and not fall prey to marketing strategies that are intended to pull more money out of our pockets. Personally, I'm tired of playing games. I feel like a company who will charge a reasonable price to ALL customers, instead of offering special rebates to a FEW customers, is the company who deserves my hard-earned money. (This applies to drug companies, also.) Marilyn C. Texas
FDA lowers current recommended starting dosage on Rx sleep remedy Lunesta
SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday announced it required Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, manufacturer of the sleep drug Lunesta (eszopiclone), to change the drug label and lower the current recommended starting dose. Data show that eszopiclone levels in some patients may be high enough the morning after use to impair activities that require alertness, including driving, even if they feel fully awake.
Taken at bedtime, the recommended starting dose of Lunesta (eszopiclone) has been decreased from 2 mg to 1 mg for both men and women. The 1-mg dose can be increased to 2 mg or 3 mg if needed, but the higher doses are more likely to result in next-day impairment of driving and other activities that require full alertness. Using lower doses means less drug will remain in the body in the morning hours.
Patients currently taking the 2-mg and 3-mg doses of Lunesta should contact their healthcare professional to ask for instructions on how to continue to take their medicine safely at a dose that is best for them.
“To help ensure patient safety, healthcare professionals should prescribe, and patients should take, the lowest dose of a sleep medicine that effectively treats their insomnia,” said Ellis Unger, director, Office of Drug Evaluation I in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Recently, data from clinical trials and other types of studies have become available, which allowed the FDA to better characterize the risk of next-morning impairment with sleep drugs.”
The dose change is based, in part, on findings from a study of 91 healthy adults ages 25 yeras to 40 years. The study shows, compared to an inactive pill (i.e., placebo), Lunesta 3 mg was associated with severe next-morning psychomotor and memory impairment in both men and women 7.5 hours after taking the drug. The study found that recommended doses can cause impairment to driving skills, memory and coordination as long as 11 hours after the drug is taken. Despite these long-lasting effects, patients were often unaware they were impaired.
The FDA approved changes to the Lunesta prescribing information and the patient Medication Guide to reflect these new prescribing recommendations. The drug labels for generic eszopiclone products also must be updated to include these changes. In a drug safety communication issued today, the FDA urged healthcare professionals to caution patients taking Lunesta about the risk of next-morning impairment for activities that require mental alertness, including driving. Alertness can be impaired even in people who do not feel drowsy.
The FDA is continuing to evaluate the risk of impaired mental alertness with the entire class of sleep drugs, including over-the-counter drugs, and will update the public as new information becomes available, the agency stated.
In January 2013, the FDA announced a dose reduction for sleep drugs that contain the active ingredient zolpidem, such as Ambien and Ambien CR, because of the risk of next-morning impairment.
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