WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — The news that Take Care Clinics now are offering wellness services for Medicare enrollees clearly demonstrates that there’s an opportunity for retail clinics to fill gaps in care, and promote wellness and better patient outcomes.
(THE NEWS: Take Care Clinics offering Medicare wellness visits. For the full story, click here.)
As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed last year under healthcare reform, Medicare now offers preventive wellness visits to millions of seniors enrolled in Medicare Part B and select Medicare Advantage plans. Yet, according to CMS, only a little more than 6% of eligible seniors actually are taking advantage of this opportunity to receive screenings to help them stay well.
Why? Because of a combination of low awareness that they even have the option and a lack of access — not all physician’s offices will provide the services. And even if a patient’s physician does offer the wellness visit, how quickly could that patient get an appointment to see the doctor? After all, it is no secret that this country already is grappling with a physician shortage.
That’s why it is important that Take Care Health Systems now is stepping up to the plate to offer these patients convenient access through its more than 360 clinic locations that have convenient hours and no requirement for an appointment. Clearly this is yet one more indication that retail-based health clinics — and the healthcare professionals that work in them — play a significant role in today’s healthcare system.