CVS Ramps Up Retail Clinics with Provider Affiliations

Christopher Cheney, July 22, 2014

A new player in the healthcare delivery system is taking on an old challenge: primary care.

Minute Clinic

Relief for a common side effect of healthcare reform—increased demand for primary care services—may come from a place well known for soothing many ills.

CVS Caremark, one of the biggest retail pharmacy brands in the country is playing a major new-entrant role in healthcare delivery.

With several new provider partners announced last week, the Woonsocket, RI-based company has established clinical affiliations with more traditional healthcare providers in six states: Hartford HealthCare and ProHealth Physicians in Connecticut, Memorial Health in Georgia, Lahey Health and Baystate Health in Massachusetts, Texas Health Resources in Texas, Palmetto Health in South Carolina and The Baton Rouge Clinic in Louisiana.

The centerpiece of the pacts are MinuteClinics, which offer treatment for conditions that do not require a trip to an emergency room or an urgent care center, CVS officials said via email Monday.

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"MinuteClinic locations are not intended to act as primary care sites, but instead complement the work of the primary care physicians by supporting their efforts in providing convenient and accessible care," CSV said. "MinuteClinic provides treatment for common family illnesses and administers wellness and prevention services, including health-condition monitoring for patient with chronic diseases."

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CVS Caremark cited research indicating that the quality of care at "retail clinics" is equivalent to traditional healthcare delivery settings such as hospitals. It is "on par with the care provided at ERs, urgent care centers and physician offices, which was demonstrated through a Rand-sponsored study, published in the September 2009 issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine," CVS said, noting the research "was largely based on MinuteClinic data."

Christopher Cheney

Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care​ editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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