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WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — The news that CVS Caremark's MinuteClinic has entered into a clinical affiliation with Advocate Health Care and Advocate Physician Partners is important as it reflects a larger focus within the U.S. healthcare landscape: medical homes, or for a growing number of Americans, the lack thereof.
(THE NEWS: MinuteClinic enters clinical affiliation with Advocate Health Care, Advocate Physician Partners. For the full story, click here)
Physicians affiliated with Advocate Physician Partners will serve as medical directors for MinuteClinic's 23 locations in the Chicago metro area and in Bloomington, Ill. In addition, MinuteClinic and Advocate Health Care will collaborate on patient education and disease management initiatives and will inform patients of the services each offers.
Important, Advocate Physician Partners physicians also will, where appropriate, accept patients who need a higher level of care than MinuteClinic can provide.
In other words, this collaboration allows Advocate physicians to provide a medical home for those patients who seek care at MinuteClinic and do not have a relationship with a physician.
Establishing a medical home for patients who do not have a primary care physician is critical and clearly represents a significant opportunity for retail-based clinics.
According to Deloitte's "2010 Survey of Health Care Consumers Key Findings, Strategic Implications," more than half of the uninsured (57%) do not have a primary care physician; 85% cite cost and/or coverage as reasons. The uninsured are more likely than the insured to use a retail clinic to save time (34% vs. 28%) or money (45% vs. 32%).
The need to establish medical homes increasingly is becoming clear and it is not going unnoticed as the convenient care industry has increasingly seen the formation of such affiliations as that of MinuteClinic and Advocate.
Expect to see even more going forward.
In an earlier interview, Ken Berndt, director of FastCare, told Drug Store News that he believed much of the growth going forward will stem from hospital systems jumping aboard the clinic bandwagon.
"Hospital systems are continuing to look to expand the medical home and retail clinics are a large contribution to expanding the medical home for the primary care groups in health systems," Berndt said. "I think you are going to see health systems do the bulk of the growth."
Bellin Health Systems established the FastCare brand of retail health clinics in 2006.