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Retail clinics level playing field in healthcare system

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The emergence of the reports by Kalorama Information and Rasmussen Reports are important because they underscore the important role that retail-based healthcare clinics — and the nurse practitioners who work within them — increasingly play in the nation’s healthcare system.

(THE NEWS: Kalorama projects retail clinic growth. For the full story, click here)

(THE NEWS: Most U.S. voters believe an expanded role for nurse practitioners will boost quality of health care. For the full story, click here)

As reported, independent healthcare market research firm Kalorama Information expected retail-based health clinics to continue to grow and to become a durable part of the healthcare system. Kalorama Information was certain to note that the growth comes despite such hurdles as a fragile economy and some state regulatory hurdles, at the behest of physician lobbies.

Furthermore, the findings of a new Rasmussen Reports survey found that most U.S. voters believed that the quality of health care would improve if routine care was handled by nurse practitioners and physicians then were able to focus on more challenging healthcare issues. Many survey respondents were in favor of training and licensing nurse practitioners to expand the level of care they provide.

These findings come as 2011 marks the beginning of the second wave of clinic expansion.

New healthcare legislation that will afford some 30 million uninsured people health insurance — coupled with the aging U.S. population and a shortage of primary care physicians — will benefit the convenient care industry and undoubtedly drive industry growth.

Not only are health systems all across the country becoming more engaged, but also clinic operators are gearing up the wave of expansion. For example, MinuteClinic plans to open more clinics at a rate of about 100 clinics per year, beginning this year. By 2015, MinuteClinic estimated it will operate about 1,060 clinics in 100 markets.

In December 2010, RedlClinic announced plans open 20 new clinics in H-E-B stores across Texas, nearly doubling the number of clinics operating within select H-E-B locations.

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RediClinic’s weight-loss program builds on current convenient care offerings

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — With more than two-thirds of Americans either overweight or obese, weight management undoubtedly is a critical health issue facing the nation. And the news that RediClinic now is offering a weight-management program speaks to a larger trend with the convenient care industry: expanding service offerings beyond acute care, which includes, for some operators, tools to tackle obesity.

(THE NEWS: RediClinic introduces Weigh Forward. For the full story, click here)

RediClinic is launching as of May 16 its new Weigh Forward medically supervised program for weight management. The 10-week program was developed in partnership with weight-loss expert David Katz, and will be available at all 29 RediClinic locations inside H-E-B stores in Houston, Austin and San Antonio.

While RediClinic is the latest clinic operator to announce plans to help consumers tackle obesity, it isn’t the first. In 2006, Lindora Clinic partnered with Rite Aid to open the first retail-based health clinic to offer clinically supervised treatment for weight management. The Lindora Health Clinic focuses on weight-loss and wellness services in the Southern California area, and there currently are more than a half dozen locations.

Meanwhile, The Little Clinic announced in December 2010 the appointment of Eileen Myers as director of prevention and health management to lead health-and-wellness initiatives, as well as to oversee the rollout of an expanded scope of services for the company. Myers previously worked as a private practice dietitian, counseling patients with weight and eating disorder issues. She also has been a consultant, providing motivational interviewing and behavior change strategy expertise for business and industry organizations. Prior to her appointment, Myers worked closely with The Little Clinic for three years as a consultant on scope of services and SmartPath Prevention Programs.

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Medical costs for youth with diabetes more than $9,000 a year

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Wednesday, young people with diabetes face substantially higher medical costs than children and teens without the disease. The study found annual medical expenses for youth with diabetes were $9,061, compared with $1,468 for youth without the disease.

Much of the extra medical costs come from prescription drugs and outpatient care, the CDC found. Young people with the highest medical costs were treated with insulin, and included all those with Type 1 diabetes and some with Type 2 diabetes. People with Type 1 diabetes cannot make insulin and must receive insulin treatment. Some people with Type 2 diabetes also are treated with insulin, because their bodies do not produce enough to control blood glucose, or sugar.

Children and adolescents who received insulin treatment had annual medical costs of $9,333, compared with $5,683 for those who did not receive insulin but did take oral medications to control blood glucose.

"Young people with diabetes face medical costs that are six times higher than their peers without diabetes," said Ann Albright, director of the CDC’s division of diabetes translation. "Most youth with diabetes need insulin to survive, and the medical costs for young people on insulin were almost 65% higher than for those who did not require insulin to treat their diabetes."

The study examined medical costs for children and teens ages 19 years or younger who were covered by employer-sponsored private health insurance plans in 2007, using the MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters Database. The estimates were based on administrative claim data from nearly 50,000 youth, including 8,226 with diabetes.

Medical costs for people with diabetes, the vast majority of whom are adults, are 2.3 times higher than costs for those without diabetes, according to the CDC’s National Diabetes "Fact Sheet 2011." The CDC study will be published in the May issue of the journal Diabetes Care.

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