Retail clinics continue to gain strong momentum

Seattle-based regional pharmacy chain Bartell Drugs will open, in early 2014, retail-based clinics inside three of its stores under a partnership with local health organization Group Health Cooperative.

The importance of the news isn’t just the fact that this will mark Bartell’s foray into the convenient care clinic arena but also that it speaks to a much broader notion — 2014 will be the year of the clinics. Yes, we have said it before and we’re saying it yet again.

With healthcare reform bringing millions of Americans into the insurance fold, the anticipation is palpable and players within the community pharmacy space are increasingly stepping up to demonstrate the important part they play in improving patient outcomes. This is placing a renewed focus on the retail-based clinic model and operators are working to expand their scope of services, grow their footprints and forge clinical affiliations with major healthcare systems.

In fact, just days after Bartell’s announcement it was revealed that CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic has expanded to its 28th state with the opening of clinic locations inside select CVS/pharmacy stores in New Hampshire, and the clinic operator also has formed a new clinical collaboration with Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the largest healthcare system in New Hampshire.

In addition, RediClinic, a Texas-based operator of care clinics based in H-E-B grocery stores, unveiled its newest version of Weigh Forward, its weight and lifestyle management program, which is being dubbed Weigh Forward 2.0.

Clearly, convenient care clinics are communicating their vital role as a provider of quality, affordable and convenient healthcare but what’s more important — patients and payors are listening.

As FierceHealthcare has reported, researchers found that if retail-based clinic visits make up for 10% of all outpatient primary care visits by 2015, national cost-savings would be $2.2 billion. If nurse practitioners in all 50 states practiced independently, that would add on an additional $810 million. That savings could grow even more — by $472 million — if nurse practitioners could prescribe on their own too. That is significant.


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