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Beyond the Hospital, Another 'Right' Place for Care

 |  By Philip Betbeze  
   September 08, 2015

Collaboration between hospitals and drugstore chains can improve access to healthcare by helping to fill gaps in the continuum.

This article appears in the July/August 2015 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

If any philosophy could capture what success looks like in both patient care and the efficiency needed to alter the steepening slope of healthcare cost increases, it's a saying many in healthcare have adopted: Right care, right place, right time.

It's trite, but it's also accurate and succinct. That phrase, often cited by wonks, policymakers, hospital and health system leaders, employers, and commercial health plan leaders, is the key to many of the challenges that plague healthcare, such as uneven quality, overutilization, and high variation and cost. The difficulty, as always, is in the execution, because providing the right care in the right place at the right time requires coordination of a vast array of complex moving parts, not to mention the cooperation of the patient.

An innovative research and practical partnership between Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Medicine, a $7 billion integrated global health enterprise, and Chicago-based drugstore giant Walgreens is aimed at simplifying and operationalizing the coordination necessary to deliver the right care in the right place at the right time. In essence, the two organizations are doing clinical and economic research and development in Baltimore to create clinical pathways that can be effective on a national scale, which Walgreens can provide with more than 8,200 stores in all 50 states and fiscal 2014 sales of more than $76 billion.

Jeanne M. Clark, MD

At the core of the pilot program in development is the attempt to route patients to the most appropriate site for their condition and, in particular, to move patients who require nonemergent care out of the emergency department and into lower-cost, more coordinated sites.

From the ED to the corner drugstore

Where much of the program takes place is at the Walgreens store that opened in late 2013, adjacent to the Johns Hopkins Medicine campus. The facility is not just a drugstore; it's also a training site. This is the tangible result of an idea that an acute-focused major academic medical center can work in the nonacute setting to develop new models for improving patient care and making it more efficient, says Jeanne M. Clark, MD, director of Johns Hopkins' division of general internal medicine and a professor of medicine at the medical school.


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Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.

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