CVS Caremark chief medical officer: Retail clinic model has 'come of age'

WOONSOCKET, R.I. As CVS Caremark's MinuteClinic passes the milestone of its first decade of delivering convenient access to quality care, and with the nation facing a historic expansion of the market for primary health care, MinuteClinic locations are poised to help primary care physicians handle the influx of 32 million citizens who will gain access to health insurance beginning in 2014, said Troyen Brennan, CVS Caremark chief medical officer, speaking at a Health Affairs Reinventing Primary Care conference on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

During his presentation, Brennan outlined how the walk-in retail clinic model has "come of age" just as the need for new access points for basic health care is becoming more acute because of the growing shortage of primary care physicians, and with an influx of new patients needing care.

The good news, Brennan said, is that MinuteClinic receives better than 90% customer satisfaction rates while achieving good outcomes for their patients. In addition, the clinic is experiencing growing acceptance by commercial insurers and doctors, who at one time viewed the business with skepticism but have come to view clinics as complementary to their practices, CVS Caremark stated.

For example, MinuteClinic last week signed an agreement with Catholic Healthcare West, the eighth-largest hospital provider in the nation, to collaborate on healthcare services in communities throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area. MinuteClinic also has forged collaborations with Allina Hospitals & Clinics in Minnesota and the Cleveland Clinic. Brennan said the company expects to be announcing several additional relationships in the months ahead.

 

MinuteClinic was launched in 2000 and has served more than seven million patients over the past decade. The company has seen six million of those patients since 2007, reflecting steady growth that is based on:

  • Providing convenient walk-in access to care by locating in CVS/pharmacy stores and offering extended night and weekend hours
  • Providing quality care at relatively low costs. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in September 2009 found that services for the similar illnesses by MinuteClinic were, on average, significantly less costly than services provided in a doctor's office or emergency room service. The same study found the quality of MinuteClinic service was on a par with those provided in a doctor's office and emergency room
  • Sixty percent of MinuteClinic patients do not have a primary care physician. MinuteClinic plays an important role for these patients as a convenient source of care, and also refers patients to local physicians to develop medical home relationships.

 

In addition, MinuteClinic was the first retail healthcare provider to be accredited by the Joint Commission and in 2009 was re-accredited. MinuteClinic staff adheres to national standards of practice as established by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Institute for Clinical Systems.

"As health reform is implemented by Health and Human Services, we believe retail clinics offer complementary care that can help better manage medical costs," said Brennan. "MinuteClinic is a market innovation that should be considered as part of the solution to providing care to all our citizens."

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