RCEC 2012 upbeat as retail clinics reach tipping point
Call it the Year of the Retail Clinic.
As the Drug Store News Group and its partners at the Convenient Care Association played host to several hundred in-store based providers in Orlando, Fla., in late July for the fifth annual Retail Clinician Education Congress, several signs began to emerge that the retail clinic model had reached a critical tipping point. Not the least of which is that for the third year in a row, the U.S. Senate had resolved to name the week of Aug. 6 National Convenient Care Week.
“The U.S. Senate’s resolution recognizes the tremendous value of the convenient care option,” CCA executive director Tine Hansen-Turton told RCEC attendees.
“DSN has long believed that the practitioners working in America’s retail clinics are on the front lines of a major revolution in health care,” DSN editor in chief Rob Eder told RCEC attendees during his July 30 opening remarks. “The Senate’s resolution and its call on the states to champion the unilateral expansion of retail clinics is an important indication that people in Washington understand and appreciate the role retail clinics can and should play in the future of health care.”
But even before the Senate’s resolution, clinic leaders agreed that in recent months support had been growing for the retail clinic model, beginning with an article published in the May 23 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Retail Clinics and Drugstore Medicine,” written by a Philadelphia-based physician who came out squarely in support of the model.
The JAMA article was followed soon after by the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in late June, which led to a series of high-profile news articles, including a July 29 story that appeared on page 1 of the Sunday New York Times, “Dr. Shortage to worsen under health reform.” A story that appeared the next day on page 1 of the Los Angeles Times was perhaps a bit more to the point: “Retail clinics grow with healthcare act.”
By Aug. 1, with RCEC 2012 in full swing, the Massachusetts state legislature voted to pass an important healthcare cost containment bill, which was signed into law a week later by Gov. Deval Patrick. Among other important measures designed to save the state $200 billion in healthcare costs over the next 15 years, the new law expands the services of retail clinics in Massachusetts to the full scope of practice for a nurse practitioner, including diagnosis/treatment, management and monitoring of acute and chronic disease, and wellness and preventive services.
Just as Massachusetts has proven to a be model for health reform, it is believed that the state’s response to better manage health costs will likely become a model for other states, vastly expanding the scope of services for retail clinics all across the country. Meanwhile, it is projected that retail clinics will more or less double in number by 2015, according to estimates from Merchant Medicine.
Against this backdrop, the mood was decidedly upbeat among attendees at RCEC 2012. The event featured 15 hours of live continuing education dually accredited for both nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and the presentation of the fifth annual Retail Clinician CARE Awards, which honor the nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacists whose special actions have come to define excellence in retail-based patient care. For the second year in a row, the event also included a special Collaborative Care track of education — six hours accredited for NPs, PAs and pharmacists.
Highlights from the event, along with profiles of this year’s CARE Award winners — and Lifetime Achievement Award winner Shirley Chater, PhD, RN, FAAN, former commissioner of the U.S. Social Security Administration and chair of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellows Program’s national advisory committee — will appear in the September/October edition of DSN Collaborative Care.
Retail stars to headline DSN Issues Summit
Walgreens. CVS. Rite Aid. Walmart. Costco. Health Mart. Sam’s Club. Ahold. H-E-B. Winn-Dixie. McKesson. Good Neighbor Pharmacy. Kerr Drug. Rexall Canada. Family Dollar. Shoppers Drug Mart. Giant Eagle. The list of participating companies in the 14th Annual Drug Store News Group Industry Issues conference reads like a “who’s who” of retailing.
Headlining a high-powered lineup of retailers from top chains across food, drug, mass and dollar stores, Larry Kudlow, host of CNBC primetime’s “The Kudlow Report,” will deliver the special keynote lunch address between executive panel discussions at this year’s Industry Issues event, which will be held Tuesday, Nov. 27, at the highly prestigious New York Athletic Club in New York City.
“Now in it’s 14th year, Industry Issues Summit is about industry leaders and key decision-makers coming together from both the retailer and supplier communities to share productive conversations about the future opportunities within the chain pharmacy industry,” said Drug Store News Group publisher Wayne Bennett. “Sponsors and attendees get access to a great day of insightful discussions and networking among key industry influencers.”
In all, DSN will host three high-level business discussions as part of its Industry Issues conference, with three distinct groups of expert panelists, including:
Issues Summit: Moderated by Dan Mack, EVP strategic business development for The Swanson Group and managing director of the Mack Elevation Forum. Top retailers discuss best practices and new ideas for engaging shoppers in health, wellness and beauty;
Health, Wellness & Technology Summit: Moderated by Bob Dufour, COO and partner at Blue Ocean Innovative Solutions. Panelists, including top retail technology executives and new and emerging technology companies, examine new solutions to drive improved patient care using technology as an enabler; and
Diabetes Leadership Forum: Moderated by Dave Wendland, VP and co-owner of Hamacher Resource Group. This panel examines best practices among suppliers and retailers in improving health outcomes and maximizing opportunities to engage patients with diabetes.
In addition to the top-notch programming, the event also provides an important networking opportunity with key retailers with responsibilities that range across the entire store. To register to attend, visit DSNIndustryIssues.com; for sponsorship information, contact Wayne Bennett at [email protected]
The retailization of health care
Online Groupons for health services? Doctors and hospitals sharing patient data and treatment goals with retail clinics, pharmacies and urgent care centers? Hospitals luring patients with inviting atriums and indoor waterfalls? It’s all part of a wave of “retailization” as the nation’s transforming health system emerges from behind the walls of hospitals, labs and doctors’ offices, and repositions itself as a more retail-oriented, patient-friendly network of care.
What’s driving the retailization trend? Plenty. The skyrocketing costs of traditional doctor- and hospital-centered care; the acute shortage of primary care physicians; the resulting lack of timely access to a family doctor for patients who need care now; and the obvious need for a coordinated, “continuum of care” treatment system are all contributing factors.
In addition, the health-reform law recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court will add millions more Americans to the ranks of the insured and spur the creation of new, more integrated care models, like accountable care organizations and medical homes. The effect will be to further drive health care out into the open and further expand the role played by community pharmacies, retail clinics and urgent care centers.
With health reform on track to bring 32 million more Americans into the healthcare system in 2014 — and with payers and patients looking for solutions to rein in costs — “incentives for collaboration are quickening the convergence of hospitals, insurers, drug makers, physicians and technology companies,” noted PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute in a response to the Supreme Court ruling. “Creation of new state and private insurance exchanges, greater pricing transparency, mobile technology and nontraditional competitors are turning the health business into a retail operation.”
The growing health cost burden also is playing an outsized role in the retailization trend. “The growth of high-deductible health plans underscores consumers’ cost sensitivity and puts increased pressure on insurers for the most cost-effective healthcare options, such as retail clinics, e-visits and mobile health, which provide convenient primary care services,” PwC reported.
The forces transforming health care and driving its migration to a retail model — cost containment, electronic patient record-keeping, and the need for a more integrated and evidence-based system of care — are “forcing organizations to reconsider their business models, reorient their operations around the patient and re-imagine the future of health care,” noted IBM in a report. And the “growing ‘retailization’ of health care,” IBM concluded, “will drive change in how health care is purchased, consumed and delivered.”
In this new arena, noted the report, “Empowering patients means developing multichannel approaches, convenient locations and varied settings to expand access to healthcare services. It means delivering … [preventive] care vs. episodic and transactional care. It also means using innovative technologies and data to personalize treatments and engage citizens in their own health management and disease prevention.”
All of which lie right in the patient-centered sweet spot for pharmacists and retail clinicians.
One vocal champion for retailization is Walgreens, which is debuting a store format built around wellness and prevention. The chain actively promotes its revamped strategic vision as an accessible and cost-effective adjunct to overtaxed primary care practices.
That vision, noted Wasson, calls for Walgreens’ nearly 8,000 pharmacies to “serve as a centerpiece in … improving access to care and lowering costs through an expanded scope of community-based health-and-wellness solutions.”
Also driving the retail health revolution is Rite Aid, which is making an impact with its Wellness Plus loyalty program and more than 400 in-store Wellness Ambassadors who provide information to customers and act as a bridge from the front end to the pharmacy.
Meanwhile, CVS Caremark —which is expected to emerge with a special healthcare format as part of its ongoing store clustering concept — as the owner of MinuteClinic is also the single biggest operator of retail clinics with more than 600 currently in operation.