PHARMACY

Wellness, preventive care offered at Walmart Care Clinics

BY Richard Monks

While Walmart has more than 100 clinics in its more than 5,000 stores nationwide, company executives said the walk-in health centers offer a cost-effective way for patients to receive acute and chronic medical care. As a result, the company plans to expand its network of clinics over the next few years.

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“We believe that consumers are going to want their healthcare delivered to them anywhere, anyway and any how they choose,” Jill Turner-Mitchael, SVP overseeing health and wellness for the company’s Sam’s Club unit said earlier this year at a meeting of the Northwest Arkansas Council’s Health Care Summit.

Executives said Walmart’s clinics fit in with the company’s broader effort to provide a comprehensive range of health services and give consumers more flexibility on how they get care.

Walmart’s model goes beyond basic acute care and offers more services normally associated with a primary care provider, such as wellness and preventive care and management of chronic conditions.

Walmart’s clinics include 79 outlets that are independently owned by local hospitals and healthcare groups, and operate under the Clinic at Walmart banner. Six clinics in Wisconsin operate under the Aurora Quick Care name.

Meanwhile, a little over two years ago, the company opened 18 Care Clinics. These corporate-owned clinics — five in Georgia, five in South Carolina and eight in Texas — are expected to be the first in a growing network of clinics owned and operated by Walmart.

Walmart’s commitment to its clinics was underscored last year when the company named retail clinic pioneer Sandy Ryan to lead its Care Clinic business.

The former chief nurse practitioner officer for Take Care/Walgreens Healthcare Clinic who is credited with playing a central role in getting that venture off the ground, Ryan has been involved in health clinics for more than a quarter of a century. As chairwoman of the Clinical Advisory Board of the Convenient Care Association, she was instrumental in developing the trade group’s Quality and Safety Standards and implementing a third-party certification process for these standards.

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PHARMACY

Expansion of services, new execs enhance care model

BY Richard Monks

With nearly 200 clinics in stores operated by Kroger across 10 states, The Little Clinic has become a vital healthcare source for millions of patients across the United States. To ensure that it stays that way, the company has expanded the breadth of the services it offers in some clinics and added new executives to its management team.

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Founded in 2003 and a wholly owned subsidiary of Kroger since 2010, The Little Clinic surpassed the 4 million patient mark earlier this year.

“Hitting the 4 million patient milestone is quite an accomplishment for our company and for the great team of providers The Little Clinic has working with patients each and every day,” president and CEO Colleen Lindholz said. “It is also an indication that today’s consumers desire quality, affordable care on their timetable.”

Around the same time, the company formed a clinical collaboration that allows patients enrolled in Virginia Commonwealth University Health to access the program’s physicians and specialists at Little Clinics in four Richmond, Va., Kroger stores.

More recently, Little Clinic has bolstered its executive team with the promotion of VP and medical director Marc Watkins to the post of chief medical officer.

Watkins’ elevation to the position came two months after the company announced that it was adding registered dietitian nutritionists to its clinics in Nashville, Tenn.; Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio; and Denver.

“Kroger is a health-and-wellness leader in so many regards that it’s a natural extension of our business to add dietitians to our care model,” Lindholz said. “We are now able to help our patients make a better connection between food and overall health, and provide personalized food-related guidance to each individual patient right inside the store where food decisions are made.”

VP of retail dietetics and nutrition solutions Eileen Myers, the executive overseeing the dietitian program, said the Little Clinic is the ideal place to offer such services.

“Our approach is truly a hands-on approach because we can easily take a store tour with patients, guide them to the foods that best fit their nutrition goals, teach them how to read food labels and create a personalized food plan to best support the patient’s goals — whether that’s weight management, food allergies, diabetes, improved sports performance or other health concerns,” she said.

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Walgreens Healthcare Clinic invests in continuum of care

BY Richard Monks

Walgreens has been at the forefront of the movement to make retail clinics a cornerstone of the American healthcare system.

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With more than 350 corporate-owned clinics in 20 states operating under the Healthcare Clinic banner and about 50 other clinics in its stores run by other providers, a long list of affiliations with health systems across the country and cutting-edge technology, the company has established itself as a critical provider of health services for thousands of Americans.

Since opening its first clinics in the early 2000s, Walgreens has grown that portion of its business by slowly adding more company-owned, walk-in health centers and partnering with established clinic operators to put clinics in Walgreen stores in certain markets.

In April, for instance, Walgreens teamed up with SSM Health on a deal under which SSM will take over ownership and operation of 27 Healthcare Clinics in St. Louis-area Walgreens stores. The clinics are expected to be renamed SSM Health Express Clinic at Walgreens later this year.

The deal followed an agreement in January between Walgreens and Advocate Health Care that has seen Advocate open 56 clinics at Walgreens stores in the Chicago suburbs.

“We believe this approach will help ensure a true continuum of care for patients and their providers. This is also an emphasis for our Walgreens-managed clinics, where we continue to make investments, such as a new EHR platform, to offer patient benefits through a variety of convenient care options,” Walgreens Healthcare Clinic chief medical officer Pat Carroll said.

He noted that by collaborating with other healthcare providers, Walgreens is helping drive the transition of the retail health clinic model from one providing urgent, episodic care to one offering more coordinated care. A key component of that coordination has come from Walgreens’ use of the Epic electronic health record platform that went into effect earlier this year.

“This state-of-the-industry EHR enables seamless communication with health systems and local providers, and gives us enhanced capabilities to deliver better health outcomes through greater care coordination and interoperability,” Carroll said. “As our clinics play an increasingly important role in health care — supporting the healthcare system, provider practices and patients’ medical homes — care coordination can be critical.”

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