PHARMACY

MinuteClinic, Virtua partner on services in southern New Jersey

BY Alaric DeArment

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Physicians from a New Jersey-based healthcare provider will work at five MinuteClinic locations inside CVS/pharmacy stores in the state, under a new partnership.

MinuteClinic and Virtua on Tuesday announced the partnership, whereby the physicians will serve as medical directors at clinics in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties, while the two companies collaborate on patient education and disease management initiatives and inform patients of the services they offer, and Virtua will accept patients who need types of care that MinuteClinic doesn’t provide.

"Virtua’s reputation for clinical excellence and its proven track record for patient satisfaction were important factors in our decision to affiliate," MinuteClinic president and CVS Caremark SVP and associate chief medical officer Andrew Sussman said. "We look forward to having Virtua physicians collaborate with MinuteClinic practitioners to provide quality oversight, teaching and back-up so MinuteClinic can provide the best care at the lowest overall cost."

The two also plan to work to fully integrate electronic medical record systems to streamline communication, whereby patients can give permission for MinuteClinic to share medical histories and visit summaries with other Virtua locations.

"Virtua is committed to health and wellness and to providing easy access to quality health care," Virtua chief medical officer and EVP Jim Dwyer said. "This partnership enables us to achieve our mission of helping people be well, get well and stay well. Partnering with a quality organization like MinuteClinic makes it easier for people to fulfill their healthcare needs."


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PHARMACY

Phone, mail reminders improve statin adherence, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

PASADENA, Calif. — Automated phone and mail reminders increase the likelihood that patients with new prescriptions for cholesterol-lowering drugs will pick them up from the pharmacy, according to a new study.

Kaiser Permanente Southern California enrolled 5,216 patients and found that those receiving an automated reminder were 1.6 times more likely to fill prescriptions for statin drugs than those who didn’t receive reminders. The study was published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine Monday.

When patients didn’t pick up their drugs within one or two weeks of a doctor’s appointment, they received informational and encouraging phone calls and received a reminder letter if they still had not picked up the medication a week after the phone call. The phone and mail prompts cost $1.70 per patient, according to the study, and after the intervention, the percentage of patients who picked up their prescriptions increased from 26% to 42%.

"Getting patients to take the well-proven medicines their physicians prescribe them will ultimately reduce their risk of heart attacks and stroke," Kaiser Permanente Southern California researcher Stephen Derose said. "This automated intervention is a good way to very efficiently reach a large number of people and improve their health outcomes."


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PHARMACY

Acute and growing shortage of primary care docs elevating role of pharmacists, nurse practitioners

BY Jim Frederick

Who needs the services of community pharmacists and the nurse practitioners who staff retail-based walk-in clinics and ambulatory care centers? Among others, the nearly 67 million Americans underserved by primary care physicians.

That’s the number of U.S. residents currently living in a part of the country where there’s a shortage of primary care doctors, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. What’s more, access to the family doctor is getting harder and harder even for those who do have a regular physician, according to the research group Marketdata Enterprises.

Of that group, “only 57% report having access to same- or next-day appointments, and 63% [have] difficulty getting access to care on nights, weekends or holidays without going to the emergency room,” the company reported in late September. What’s more, one in five adults “waited six days or more to see a doctor when they were sick in 2010,” Drug Store News senior editor Antoinette Alexander reported last week, quoting Marketdata research.

The growing dearth of primary care physicians is one big trend spurring the explosive growth of disease management and preventative health and wellness services from chain and independent pharmacists. It’s also driving the recent upsurge in retail clinics — and the growing menu of health and diagnostic services offered by NPs in those clinics.

It’s about access and convenience. Patients who suffer a severe sprain or need a flu shot or sports physical don’t want to wait days to see a doctor, and neither they nor their insurers want to spend the time or money it takes to visit a typical physician practice or emergency room for relatively minor or preventative care.

As Alexander reports, the need for more accessible and affordable primary-care alternatives is also one factor behind the decision by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American College of Nurse Practitioners to merge their organizations, effective Jan. 1, 2013. For the combined organization, which will be known as the American Association of Nurse Practitioners or AANP, it’s about speaking with one voice to more effectively serve patients in a fast-changing health system, according to DSN.

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