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CVS Caremark strikes MinuteClinic agreements with four health systems


By Andis Robeznieks
Posted: July 17, 2014 - 2:30 pm ET
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CVS Caremark, the nation's largest operator of retail clinics, announced new clinical affiliations with healthcare systems in four states.

MinuteClinic, the retail clinic division of Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Caremark, has entered into collaborative and care-coordination agreements with the Baton Rouge (La.) Clinic; Palmetto Health, Columbia, S.C.; ProHealth Physicians, Farmington, Conn.; and Texas Health Resources, Arlington, Texas.

The agreements come amid retail healthcare's rapid growth and integration into the traditional delivery system. Walgreen Co., the second-largest retail clinic operator, agreed to work together on “innovative models of care” with CHE Trinity Health, a Livonia, Mich.-based system that operates more than 80 hospitals. This week, Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreen released findings of an in-house study detailing the increasing role these facilities have in preventive health and chronic-care services.

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MinuteClinic nurse practitioners and CVS pharmacists will provide patients of those healthcare systems with medication counseling, chronic disease monitoring and access to wellness programs. The systems will also receive data on pharmacy interventions aimed at improving patient adherence to prescription regimens.

Integration efforts will begin to integrate the CVS Epic electronic health-record system with the EHRs at the four provider organizations so that they can send messages and alerts and share patient histories and visit summaries.

“Many patients rely on their local pharmacist for information and support regarding their prescription medications, and these affiliations enable CVS pharmacists to help improve affiliated healthcare providers' patient-health outcomes through better medication adherence,” Dr. Troyen Brennan, CVS Caremark's chief medical officer, said in a news release.

CVS operates more than 800 retail clinics and, with these new arrangements, it now has clinical collaborations with 40 healthcare-provider organizations. This includes agreements announced in May with Hartford (Conn.) HealthCare; Memorial Health, Savannah, Ga.; Lahey Health, Burlington, Mass.; and Baystate Health, Springfield, Mass.

Walgreen, which has a Healthcare Clinic in more than 400 of its stores, recently released findings of a study in a poster presentation at the National Nurse Practitioner Symposium, which suggested patients have accepted retail clinics' role in the healthcare system.

Led by pharmacist Bobby Clark, Walgreen senior director of health outcomes and clinical research, the study tracked trends between 2007 and 2013. Among the findings were that annual visits grew to almost 1.9 million in 2013 from just under 250,000 in 2007 while the annual percentage of patients making return visits grew from 14.5% to 50.6% during the same period.

Acute-care services remain the primary reason people go to Walgreen retail clinics and they accounted for 61.7% of visits in 2013, down from 69% in 2007. During the same period, visits for preventive services increased to 8.9% from 2.9%, visits for disease screenings increased to 6.5% from 0.7%; and visits for chronic disease management increased to 1.3% from 0.4%.

Among the biggest changes in services was the rise in using Walgreen retail clinics for immunizations and preventive services for pediatric patients between ages 2 and 17. As the percentage of visits for these services increased, the percentage of visits for acute care dropped from 82.7% in 2007 to 51.8% in 2013, according to the study.

Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks


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