In light of the demand for more accessible and affordable healthcare services as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the primary care provider shortage and an aging baby boomer population, the vital role that retail-based health clinics can play in helping patients live healthier lives is hard to deny.
The spotlight on the 1,600-plus convenient care clinics located throughout the country continues to shine even brighter. In fact, just this past week alone, a string of significant clinic news made headlines.
It is important to note that the news hit the wires as clinic practitioners and clinic operators gathered in Minneapolis for the seventh annual Retail Clinician Education Congress. The Drug Store News Group, in conjunction with the Convenient Care Association and Partners in Healthcare Education, hosts the three-day educational and networking forum.
On Thursday, CVS Caremark announced that it has entered into new clinical affiliations with four regional health systems — Hartford HealthCare in Connecticut; Memorial Health in Georgia, and Lahey Health and Baystate Health in Massachusetts. What makes these affiliations especially important is that they mark the first clinical affiliations to include clinical collaborations with MinuteClinic combined with data on interventions performed by CVS pharmacists. Through these clinical affiliations, the patients of these health systems will receive access to clinical support, medication counseling, chronic disease monitoring, and wellness programs at CVS/pharmacy stores and MinuteClinic
Meanwhile, health officials have given CVS Caremark the green light to open seven MinuteClinic locations in its home state of Rhode Island, with imposed conditions.
Also on Thursday, it was announced that the clinical collaboration between Community Health Network and Walgreens is expanding across central Indiana. Seven additional Healthcare Clinics at select Walgreens sites are being integrated with Community Health Network to provide additional points of access for consumers.
What does it all mean? Not only does this mean greater access to convenient health care for patients, but also further illustrates the demand and need for such clinics within today’s strained U.S. healthcare system — a need that is being recognized by lawmakers, payors, providers and patients.
The convenient care industry will continue to grow and industry observers can expect to hear more — a lot more — of this type of news as we head further into 2014.