This month Walgreens announced that it would begin to offer chronic care services at its Take Care Clinics. Its biggest competitor, MinuteClinic, made a similar announcement about a year ago. With full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the people paying the bills are going to get a good look at what retail clinics can do to lower costs and improve outcomes.
Some still worry that it will fragment primary care and interrupt continuity of care. Of course, that overlooks the countless clinical affiliations and partnerships that Take Care, MinuteClinic and others are forging with hospitals and healthcare systems all across the country, and the collaboration on electronic health records occurring between these organizations.
Much of the misinformation is fueled by small physician groups that have traditionally devalued the role of nurse practitioners, and who have fought for years to limit their scope of practice at the expense of the American healthcare system.
I don't imagine that will continue.
Retail clinics getting into chronic care will improve adherence, reduce ER visits and re-hospitalizations, and help get the "medical homeless" back on the grid. And in an age of outcomes-based reimbursement, that's really in everybody's best interest. Game on.