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What's the current state of things in the Convenient Care Industry?

By Clive Riddle

After attending two sessions on retail medicine at the World Health Care Congress today, here's what we found out:

John Agwunobi, MD, EVP Professional Services for Wal-Mart shared the following statistics for Convenient Care visits at Wal-Mart locations, through their various contracted providers:

  • adults comprise 79% of visits, 21% of visits are for children
  • 55% of patients have no insurance coverage
  • Patient surveys indicate, had the Wal Mart convenient care location not been available, 40-50% of patients would have seen a primary care physician; 20-35% of patients would have used an urgent care facility; 10-15% would have gone to an ER; 5-10% would have foregone treatment
  • 90+% of patients indicate overall satisfaction
  • 25-40% of visits are for immunizations & screenings; and 60-75% of visits are to treat common illnesses

Doctor Agwunobi also discussed the Wal-Mart $4 Generic Prescription program, which is offered to all Wal-Mart customers and is proactively promoted through the Convenient Care locations. The program involves 361 generic prescriptions covering up to 95 percent of prescriptions written in the majority of therapeutic categories. Nearly 30 percent of $4 prescriptions are filled without insurance. The $4 prescriptions now represent approximately 40 percent of all filled prescriptions at Wal-Mart.

Web Golinkin, President and CEO, of RediClinic discussed RediClinic customer experiences, noting that RediClinic is a partner of Wal-Marts. Mr. Golinkin is also President of the Convenient Care Association and shared the following insights regarding the Association and industry as a whole:

  • There were 150 clinics when the Convenient Care Association founded less than two years ago to more than 950 today nationwide, with 1,500 projected by the end of 2008.
  • Overall, the clinics have treated more than 2.5 million patients in 36 states
  • Surveys indicate 16% of consumers have tried a clinic and between 34 to 41% say they intend to

Golinkin stated the potential obstacles or events that could slow industry growth would be if:

  • The industry suffered future systemic clinical quality issues
  • A shortage and/or increased cost of Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) occurred
  • If various states continue with additional regulatory impediments (clinic licensure requirements, restrictions on NP/PA scope of practice and prescriptive authority, physician oversight requirements, corporate practice of medicine prohibitions, etc.)
  • If increased Operator/business model failures occur. He noted that there have been some failures, commented that this should be expected with any industry having relatively lower barriers to entry but higher ongoing working capital requirements. He felt there will be a shakeout with consolidation.

Michael Howe, CEO of MinuteClinic, states their organization's strengths include:

  • They are "Right Size” engineered for efficiency and high quality
  • Proprietary Electronic medical record system embedded with standardized “best practice” protocols
  • Facilitates measurement of results and continuous quality improvement
  • Interoperability drives continuity of care back to the Medical Home
  • Consumer friendly - with convenient locations in consumer pathway, and “Lifestyle conscious” hours and “walk in” scheduling
  • “High touch” capability of practitioners drives compliance
  • Patient Referral system facilitates the creation of “Medical Homes”when lacking

He cited an independent external research study conducted by Market Strategies in April 2007 indicating a patient satisfaction rate, as well as the percent likely to recommend, of 97%. He noted that MinuteClinic adheres to national standards of practice guidelines, (which have been adopted by their Association) but also is the first retail health care provider to be Joint Commission accredited.

Howe also cited a peer reviewed study from September 2005 through September 2006 of 57,000+ MinuteClinic evaluations of acute pharyngitis, looking for outcome measures to include adherence to best practice treatment guideline in presence of negative or positive RST, use of back up confirmatory strep culture testing in presence of negative RST, and documented rationale when antibiotic was prescribed in presence of negative RST. The study indicated an overall adherence rate of 99.15%.

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