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Retail clinics continue to help healthcare system evolve

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Just as National Convenient Care Clinic Week gets under way and healthcare professionals gather in Orlando, Fla., to attend the fourth annual Retail Clinician Education Congress, the convenient care industry continues to evolve as MinuteClinic seals the deal on yet another clinical collaboration and a newcomer prepares to open its doors in Pennsylvania.

(THE NEWS: MinuteClinic enters clinical affiliation with Henry Ford Health System. For the full story, click here.)

As reported, MinuteClinic and Henry Ford Health System have entered a clinical affiliation to connect Henry Ford physicians, as on-call medical directors, to the 10 Southeast Michigan locations of MinuteClinic.

In addition, MinuteClinic and Henry Ford will collaborate on educating patients and helping them to manage chronic diseases. Henry Ford physicians will accept patients who need a level of care that is not provided at MinuteClinic.

This alliance marks the latest such collaboration for MinuteClinic. For example, in June alone, MinuteClinic also announced clinical affiliations with Cleveland Clinic Florida, which is part of the Cleveland Clinic health system, and OhioHealth, a not-for-profit, charitable healthcare organization.

And, of course, Walgreens’ Take Care Health Systems has formed several similar relationships. Among the more recent: a clinical collaboration with Memorial Health for patients in the greater Jacksonville, Fla., region. Such partnerships are important because they further signify that retail-based clinics are more than just clinics; they are bringing providers together in the name of better patient care and improved access.

Meanwhile, WellSpan Health, an integrated health system serving the greater Adams-York County region in Pennsylvania, is planning to open this fall three CareExpress walk-in health clinics in York County, Pa., of which two clinics will be located inside Giant food stores.

WellSpan Health currently operates two WellSpan ReadyCare walk-in clinics that treat such ailments as rashes, cuts and burns and sore throat, and a WellSpan Orthopedics walk-in clinic for sprains, breaks and strains.

However, the new WellSpan CareExpress locations will offer those services found in a typical retail-based health clinic.

Clearly, the convenient care industry is on track for a second wave of expansion.

According to Kalorama Information’s recent report, "Retail Clinics 2011: Market Assessment, Supplier Sales, Key Players and Trends," retail clinic sales have risen dramatically since their inception in 2000. The firm estimated retail clinic sales at $733.4 million in 2010, an increase of 81% per year since 2005. Through 2015, sales are expected to continue expanding, rising by 19.3% per year to reach $1.7 billion.

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Vitamin Shoppe confirms plans to open 48 stores in fiscal year

BY DSN STAFF

NORTH BERGEN, N.J. — Vitamin Shoppe said during its second-quarter earnings release that it is on track to open 48 stores in the fiscal year.

The chain opened its 500th store, located in St. Peters, Mo., in April.

On Thursday, Vitamin Shoppe reported that its net income rose 64% to $11.6 million in the quarter, compared with $7.3 million in the year-ago period. The retailer cited strong sales both in-store and online for its improved performance.

Revenue rose 12.3% to $215.9 million, topping Wall Street expectations. Same-store sales increased 8% in the quarter.

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CVS/pharmacy, MinuteClinic gear up for 2011-2012 flu season

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark is gearing up for flu season and will leverage both its CVS/pharmacy locations and MinuteClinic sites to provide flu shots for patients every day, including evenings and weekends, and will offer direct medical billing to many national and regional health plans that will cover all or part of the cost of a flu shot.

"By providing 7,800 retail locations across the United States that can offer vaccinations with no appointment necessary, CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic will make getting a flu shot easier than ever this season," said Papatya Tankut, VP pharmacy professional services at CVS/pharmacy. "While the composition of this year’s vaccine has not changed from the previous season, immunity from influenza declines over time. Receiving an annual flu shot provides you with the best protection against catching the flu."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older get a flu shot as soon as the vaccine is available, including those who were vaccinated last season.

CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic also will make flu shots more accessible this year by providing direct medical billing to many national and regional health plans that will cover all or part of the cost of a flu shot.

In addition to the seasonal flu vaccine, CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic will offer Fluzone High-Dose this season, which will be available for people ages 65 years and older. This higher-dose vaccine is designed to provide stronger protection from influenza to this age group, which has a greater risk of developing a severe illness from influenza. Most Medicare beneficiaries, including those covered by Medicare Part B, can get either version of the flu vaccine for no out-of-pocket cost.

According to the CDC, such retail pharmacies as CVS/pharmacy are an increasingly popular destination for a flu shot, accounting for more than 18% of adults who were vaccinated last season.

CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic are expected to announce the complete details of their 2011 flu vaccination program within the next few weeks.

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