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Catholic Healthcare West To Provide Medical Directors for CVS Clinics in Phoenix

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, April 30, 2010

The Arizona division of Catholic Healthcare West yesterday announced collaboration with CVS Caremark to provide physician medical directors for 10 Phoenix walk-in CVS clinics staffed by nurse practitioners.

The arrangement will allow non-profit CHW to expand its development of electronic medical records in this kind of ambulatory setting for family illnesses, as well as integrate patients into a medical home.

"If there is a situation where a person needs a higher level of care, for example, we want to make sure that we can direct that person to whatever options are most convenient and most appropriate for that patient," says CHW spokesman Paul Szablowski.

He adds that CVS, "estimates that as many as 60% of its MinuteClinic customers don't have primary care providers. We want to see if we can loop more people into a primary care network."

Currently medical director guidance at the clinics is provided by physicians employed by CVS, a situation that will gradually change to CHW-certified physicians, according to a spokesman for CVS MinuteClinic.

"We share a common goal with Catholic Healthcare West to strengthen the Phoenix community by expanding access to high quality, affordable healthcare services in locations close to where people live and work," CVS MinuteClinic President Andrew Sussman, MD, said in a statement.

Sussman added that CVS wants to collaborate with CHW "on information connectivity and a broad range of programs, including our new monitoring services and lab testing for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and asthma patients."

Wellness and prevention services and health condition monitoring also will be offered.

Szablowski says that if patients who come to the retail clinics need physician follow-up, they won't necessarily be connected with a CHW-affiliated doctor. Instead, they will be given "a resource list of providers who are nearby and accepting patients, including those who are not limited to CHW options."

The physicians who will be medical directors will be paid by CHW at "standard market rates" for their time, Szablowski says. They won't be necessarily in the locations, but they will be available to consult with the CVS nurse practitioners and will also review medical records of care and quality data.

CVS Caremark Corp. said in a statement that it is the largest pharmacy healthcare provider in the U.S. and launched the first MinuteClinic retail clinic in the U.S. in 2000. There are 500 clinics now operating in 25 states and the District of Columbia. The clinics do not require appointments and accept most health insurance.

In Phoenix, CHW operates St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Chandler Regional Medical Center and Mercy Gilbert Medical Center.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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