March 25, 2017 | By Stephen C. Schimpff, MD| Medical Economics
Walgreens and CVS pharmacy chains are aggressively developing primary care venues within their stores. Their approaches are similar yet different, although the underlying strategy is the same for both. The idea is to deliver “episodic care” to those in need with a motto of, essentially, “you’re sick, we’re quick.” The CVS model is known as MinuteClinic with 800 units nationwide and an expectation to grow to at least 1,500. The CVS health services are staffed by nurse practitioners or physician assistants. CVS has relationships with physicians, available to offer advice to the NP or PA on request. Not only medical care is offered, but also counselling for nutrition, weight loss and smoking cessation. About 85% of clients have insurance and most of those have their own primary care physician (PCP).
As long as most PCPs cannot or will not offer relationship-based care to a limited number of patients per day, these clinics will expand to fill the gap.