Expanding the Role of the Clinic

I think the fact that Walgreen’s and CVS Caremark are expanding the role that the clinics can play in healthcare is a positive thing.  There will be lots of debates about how much can be handled at the clinics versus the physician’s office, but I think the key point should be that today’s model doesn’t work.  Chronic diseases are not managed.  We provide sick care not well care.

Launched over the last four years to care for such simple ailments as ear and sinus infections, strep throat or pinkeye, retail clinic operators now are training nurses to do specialized injections for such chronic conditions as osteoporosis and asthma.

In addition, they are offering treatments for advanced skin conditions that include removal of warts and skin tags or closing minor wounds. Care for minor “sprains and strains” also is being offered at some retailers, and pilot projects are underway for breathing treatments and special infusions of drugs derived from biotechnology.

We need to figure out how to lower the costs, make the system more accessible, get patients engaged, and drive people to preventative care.  I don’t know if the clinics can do this, but if they can, we should embrace them.  I think both companies are very well positioned to drive change with their breadth of services.  They touch the consumer on a regular basis and have the ability to use data, technology, and localized care to engage patients.

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