Business

RISING TREND: ‘Retail clinics in rural areas would widen primary care.’

Tom Charland, CEO of Merchant Medicine, said CVS’ Minute Clinic push — it’s gone from 146 in January 2007 to 947 in 2015 — likely points to a future where more hospitals and affiliated primary care physicians work with retail clinics to build relationships and monitor treatments with face-to-face interactions.

By Holly Fletcher, The Tennessean

MAY 1, 2015 – Retail clinics embedded in grocers and pharmacies dot Tennessee’s metropolitan areas, yet hold promise as a model to bring health care to rural and underserved parts of the state.

Clinics are more common in Tennessee’s urban areas but could be an important access point for care in other parts of the state as the health care system undergoes an evolution to a patient-centric model that emphasizes patient outcomes instead of volume at hospitals and doctors’ offices.

Retail clinics are embedded in an existing store — such as The Little Clinic in Kroger or Minute Clinic in CVS — and welcome walk-in patients for fast, affordable care.

“I would venture that these are a trend that we will see continue to grow, particularly for preventive and primary-care services,” said Cathy Taylor, dean of College of Health Sciences and Nursing at Belmont University. “There are new opportunities with Wal-Mart, and large, large chains can reach the entire population and are located in places that might lack these care points otherwise.”

Wal-Mart and Target both have chains in the U.S. but don’t have any branches in Tennessee with clinics at this time.

DocPreneur Press & The DocPreneur Institute, together, provide fact-based, common-sense, non-fiction education and resources that give HOPE to physicians, their staff and the consumer audience at-large interested in learning more about the modern-day free market healthcare delivery marketplace, which includes: Concierge Medicine; Retail Clinics; Nurse-in-a-Box Kiosks; Cash-Only Clinics; Urgent Care Centers and Direct Primary Care (DPC).

DocPreneur Press & The DocPreneur Institute, together, provide fact-based, common-sense, non-fiction education and resources that give HOPE to physicians, their staff and the consumer audience at-large interested in learning more about the modern-day free market healthcare delivery marketplace, which includes: Concierge Medicine; Retail Clinics; Nurse-in-a-Box Kiosks; Cash-Only Clinics; Urgent Care Centers and Direct Primary Care (DPC).

Nurse practitioners provide primary care to many Tennesseans and are the clinicians most often staffing retail clinics. The practitioners’ and clinics’ prevalence is likely to rise, according to Sharon Adkins, executive director of Tennessee Nurses Association, because many of the state’s rural counties are federally underserved by health care providers. “In many, nurse practitioners are the only primary care providers,” said Adkins.

Providing primary care is atop the association’s agenda, particularly with the defeat of Insure Tennessee, which would have brought about 280,000 onto a federally subsidized insurance roll.

Affordable and free clinics treat many Tennesseans who are uninsured or have publicly funded coverage.

“We are gap fillers and supplemental providers in areas where other opportunities are hard to find,” said Martha Buckner, associate dean of nursing at Belmont University.

The first retail clinic in the U.S. opened in 2000 and as of April 1 there were more than 1,900 across the country, according to Merchant Medicine, a Minnesota-based company that tracks retail and urgent-care clinics. The greater Nashville area has 45 retail clinics, the greatest number of the state’s 96 retail clinics. Memphis and Knoxville have 25 and 20, respectively.

The clinics were controversial and not always well received by established providers who share the same neighborhood. The sentiment is that clinics see easy, quick patients like strep tests, flu shots and draw those patients away from the primary care physician.

But as more have cropped up across the country, some hospital systems and large physician practices have come to see the retail clinics as another way to reach the people who need care.

Tom Charland, CEO of Merchant Medicine, said CVS’ Minute Clinic push — it’s gone from 146 in January 2007 to 947 in 2015 — likely points to a future where more hospitals and affiliated primary care physicians work with retail clinics to build relationships and monitor treatments with face-to-face interactions.

“I think we are both seeing, and will continue to see, an expansion of (retail clinics),” said Kathy Martin, executive director and associate dean of nursing at Tennessee State University. “As more and more people need access to health care and have access to health care — we are already facing a shortage of primary care physicians — and nurse practitioners will play an important role in addressing that need.”

Reach Holly Fletcher at 615-259-8287 or on Twitter at @hollyfletcher.

Retail clinic chains with branches in Tennessee

Wal-Mart and Target don’t have retail clinics in the state but expansions could broaden the access to affordable health care for people living in rural areas.

CVS Minute Clinic: 32

Walgreens Healthcare Clinic: 33

The Little Clinic, Kroger: 31

Largest retail clinic chains in the U.S.

CVS Minute Clinic: 947 clinics

Walgreens Healthcare Clinic: 424 clinics

The Little Clinic, Kroger: 148 clinics

Wal-Mart: 102 clinics

Target: 83 clinics

Source: Merchant Medicine, January 2015

SOURCE: http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/health/2015/05/01/retail-clinics-rural-areas-widen-primary-care/26749893/

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