On pace to reach about 1,000 clinic locations by 2016 and a robust team of 1,800 nurse practitioners and physician assistants working tirelessly to provide patients convenient access to quality care, MinuteClinic has demonstrated the integral role that it plays not only within CVS Caremark’s healthcare offering but within the entire U.S. healthcare system.
Since its inception in 2000, the retail-based clinic operator has come along way. For example, it has seen 11 million patients, with more than 10 million being in the last five years; has formed clinical affiliations with well over a dozen health systems; and is serving as a critical point of entry to the healthcare system for the 50% of clinic patients who report having no medical home. These successes have helped pave the way for MinuteClinic’s growth, and now the clinic operator is taking an even greater role in reinventing pharmacy.
MinuteClinic, which experienced a 17% boost in revenues during the second quarter, is now expanding its focus beyond acute ailments and, through its expanded collaboration with Caremark, is proving to be an important “integration sweet spot” for the entire CVS Caremark enterprise.
Non-acute care is MinuteClinic’s fastest-growing segment, due in large part to the rise in chronic diseases and the primary care physician shortage that is plaguing the nation. The company has stated that it expects non-acute visits and non-flu vaccinations to reach 25% of its services over the next five years.
“We continue to focus on new programs at MinuteClinic aimed at identifying and monitoring chronic conditions. As an example, we’re focused on identifying patients with elevated blood pressure and encouraging them to follow-up with MinuteClinic or their primary care physician. As a result, we’ve seen a 50% increase in blood pressure evaluations compared to the same quarter last year,” Larry Merlo, CVS Caremark president and CEO, told analysts during its recent second-quarter conference call. “And we believe our plans to enhance our services and to double our clinic count over the next several years should position us well to play an important role in helping solve the primary care physician shortage, especially with millions of newly insured individuals expected to enter the healthcare marketplace.”
The collaboration between MinuteClinic and the PBM business also is enabling CVS Caremark to create programs for PBM members that are difficult for rivals to match. For example, clients have the opportunity to change their benefit structure to substantially reduce or eliminate co-pays at MinuteClinic. MinuteClinic also offers PBM clients flu vaccination and biometric screening programs, injection training and on-site, employer-based clinics.
Meanwhile, the overall convenient care industry is enjoying significant industry developments this year — moves that further solidify MinuteClinic’s critical role in today’s consumer-driven healthcare system.
For example, Massachusetts lawmakers recently passed a massive healthcare bill that seeks to control healthcare costs and expands the services of limited-service clinics to allow for anything within the scope of practice for a nurse practitioner.
In response to the recently passed legislation, Andrew Sussman, president of MinuteClinic and SVP/associate chief medical officer of CVS Caremark, said in a statement sent to Drug Store News, “we’re very pleased to be able to bring an expanded scope of services to MinuteClinic patients in Massachusetts in areas such as monitoring of chronic diseases, and prevention and wellness offerings. These services are well within the scope of practice of our nurse practitioners and have been welcomed by our patients in the additional 24 states where we have MinuteClinic operations.”
As of August, South Carolina is allowing retail-based health clinics to enroll as providers in Medicaid, a move that will enable Medicaid patients to use clinics for wellness visits, preventive services and to treat acute ailments.
The state currently has about two-dozen retail-based health clinics, all of them MinuteClinics.
According to The Post and Courier, South Carolina Medicaid director Tony Keck said the move is designed to expand access to care and keep those patients with basic health issues from using high-cost emergency departments.
When comparing MinuteClinic users to non-MinuteClinic users, CVS Caremark found that MinuteClinic users had 8% lower overall healthcare costs, and their emergency room expenses were 12% lower, the company stated in its most recent annual report.