Walgreens: Utilization of retail clinics for chronic, preventive care on the rise

DEERFIELD, Ill. — A new research study from Walgreens released Thursday found that patients are relying more on nurse practitioners at retail clinics to provide chronic and preventive health services. The study also revealed marked increases in the number of patients who are making return visits to clinics.
The Walgreens study found the percentage of visits to Healthcare Clinic locations for preventive services, screening and chronic visit utilization (combined) increased from 4% in 2007 to 17% in 2013. The study also found the annual percentage of return patient visits to Healthcare Clinics climbed from 15% in 2007, to more than 50% in both 2012 and 2013.  
“Access to care in the community, and the growing need to support patients with chronic diseases are two of the biggest challenges facing our health care system,” stated Harry Leider, Walgreens chief medical officer. “This further demonstrates that retail clinics can be instrumental in providing that care, driving patient engagement, and working in coordination with physicians and other primary care providers to foster continuity of care to support more patients.” 
Additional study findings include:
  • For patients age 17 years and under, visits for both preventive services and vaccinations increased by 180%;
  • For patients ages 18  to 64 years, visits for health testing increased by 90%, while overall preventive health service visits increased 66%; and
  • For patients age 65 years and older, acute visits increased 84%.
“More consumers are relying on Healthcare Clinic and our nurse practitioners as a trusted source of quality care,” commented Suzanne Hansen, Walgreens group VP, Healthcare Clinic. “Our expansion of chronic and preventive services last year is helping to drive more return visits from our patients, which is key to the patient-provider relationship and our ability to deliver personalized care.” 
The findings were presented last week at the National Nurse Practitioner Symposium in Keystone, Colo., and were based on a retrospective longitudinal study examining patient visits to Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens from 2007 through 2013. The symposium gathered industry experts to share insights and strategies for the specialty and traditional pharmacy benefit. 
With the current locations and clinic count, the Convenient Care Association estimates that 33% of Americans live within 10 minutes of a retail healthcare clinic. The variety of services offered at Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens has increased over the course of the past several years from providing vaccinations at the beginning, to diagnosing and treating a number of chronic conditions today.
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