Walgreens, the country’s largest drugstore chain, announced on April 4th that its 330+ Take Care Clinics will be the first retail store clinics to both diagnose and manage chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. The Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) who staff these clinics will provide an entry point into treatment for some of these conditions, setting Walgreens apart from competitors like Target and CVS whose staff help manage already-established chronic illnesses or are limited to testing for and treating minor, short-lived ailments like strep throat.
A one-stop shop for toothpaste, prescription drugs, and a diabetes diagnosis? The retail clinic phenomenon has its appeal: it allows patients convenience and better access to care through longer hours and more locations than our health care system now provides. Walgreens leaders bill their latest offering as a complementary service to traditional medical care. They envision close collaboration with physicians and even inclusion in Accountable Care Organizations, according to reporting by Forbes’ Bruce Japsen (though it’s not clear how the retailer would share the financial risk or savings in such a model).
Filed Under: THCB
Tagged: ACOs, Affordable Care Act, non-physician experts, Physicians, primary care, Scope of Practice, Walgreens, Wellness
Apr 12, 2013
Two-hundred-and-fifty-nine organizations have been named Medicare accountable care organizations. Most were formed by hospitals. Some were launched by physician groups.
And three were created by a pharmacy chain.
Walgreens’ move into shared savings is many things: unusual, eye-catching, a sign of the times.
But it’s not surprising, observers say, as the pharmacy chain has been cultivating a broader strategy to ramp up its role in frontline care. And through a handful of new programs, Walgreens already has “demonstrated … the valuable role our pharmacists can play working with physicians to meet the triple aim” of improving patient outcomes and satisfaction while cutting health costs, spokesperson Jim Cohn told me.
“ACOs are the next step.”
Continue reading “Is Walgreens the Future? What a Big Pharmacy Chain’s Moves Tell Us About Obamacare”
Filed Under: THCB, The Business of Health Care
Tagged: ACOs, Affordable Care Act, Dan Diamond, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, National Community Pharmacists Association, Obamacare, Pharmacies, Pharmacists, shared savings program, Walgreens, WellTransitions
Feb 6, 2013
Target, Walgreens and CVS have recently started medical clinics in their stores. Opening up these “retail clinics” seems both potentially profitable and, at first blush, somehow pushes the lines on our tradition view of where medical services should be located. Giving the concept of retail clinics some thought might reveal store-based providers to be convenient and cost-effective, or alternatively full of conflicts of interest and potential harms. Should we be worried about retail clinics turning into the Walmart of medicine?
The retail clinic industry appears to have grown rapidly over the last few years. Most of these clinics are run by three large chains–Target, Walgreens and CVS–but there are also a mix of smaller providers branching out of existing chains like the Mayo Clinic. Their primary use seems to be the treatment of acute “urgent care” conditions such as symptomatic treatment of upper respiratory tract infections (lots of sore throats), or providing simple preventive care such as vaccinations. Most patients who visit these retail clinics will see a nurse practitioner. According to a recent study that tracked the growth of these clinics from 2007 to 2009, there was a four-fold rise in the number of these clinics, such that there are now over 1,200 retail clinics that see almost 6 million visits per year.
Continue reading “Are Retail Clinics Dangerous?”
Filed Under: THCB, The Business of Health Care
Tagged: CVS, EpiAnalysis, Mayo Clinic, outpatient visits, primary care, Retail Clinics, Sanjay Bansu, Target, urgent care, Walgreens
Sep 28, 2012
Walgreens is being sued by customers who are not happy that their prescription information – even though it has been de-identified – is being sold by Walgreens to data-mining companies.
The data privacy and security concerns surrounding the transfer of de-identified data are significant. To “de-identify” what is otherwise protected health information under HIPAA, some outfits will simply strip data of 18 types of identifiers listed in federal regulations. However, the relevant regulation (45 CFR 164.514(b)(2)(ii)) also provides that this only works if “the covered entity does not have actual knowledge that the information could be used alone or in combination with other information to identify an individual who is a subject of the information.” Thus, the problem with this approach is that, these days, nobody can disclaim knowledge of the fact that information de-identified by removing this cookbook list of 18 identifiers may be re-identified by cross-matching data with other publicly-available data sources. There are a number of reported instances of this sort of thing happening. The bottom line is that our collective technical prowess has outstripped the regulatory safe harbor.
Is this the basis of the lawsuit brought against Walgreens? An objection to trafficking in health information that should remain private? No. The plaintiff group of customers is suing to share in the profits realized by Walgreens from trading in the de-identified data. Continue reading “Who Owns Patient Data?”
Filed Under: Pharma, THCB, The Insider's Guide To Health Care
Tagged: Data, David Harlow, Privacy, Walgreens
Mar 22, 2011
May, I spoke at the Chronic Care and Prevention Congress about my most
recent report, “Chronic Disease and the Internet.”
about the social life of health information and the internet’s power to
connect people with information and with each other. Living with
chronic disease is associated with being offline – no surprise. What’s
amazing and new is our finding that if someone can get access to the
internet, chronic disease is associated with a higher likelihood to not
only gather health information but to share it, to socialize around it.
my talk around two examples of how health care can either take advantage
of patients’ shared wisdom (and innovate) or ignore it (and fail).
innovation example was CureTogether’s crowd-sourced migraine findings: 147 treatments were evaluated
and ranked according to their effectiveness and popularity, with some
surprising results. My fail example was taken from Diana Forsythe’s
classic essay, “New Wine, Old Bottles.” Designers of a migraine
information resource asked a single doctor what he thought patients
should know, rather than going directly to the patients. Not
surprisingly, the number one question asked by newly diagnosed migraine
sufferers was not addressed: Am I
going to die from this? Ridiculous to a doctor, but
essential to a patient.
Continue reading “Patient Communities… at Walgreens?”
Filed Under: Pharma
Tagged: Patients, Susannah Fox, Walgreens
Jun 18, 2010