Kaiser Permanente to staff Target primary care clinics

Kaiser Permanente clinicians will now staff clinics at three San Diego-area Target stores, the two companies announced this weekend, with a fourth opening Dec. 6.  

The retail clinics will accept other insurance in addition to Kaiser, according to the announcement, and are working out contracts "for certain services" with Medicare, MediCal and Blue Shield of California along with additional insurers. They're also expanding clinic services to include pediatric, adolescent and well-woman care, family planning and chronic disease management.

Kaiser Permanente licensed nurse practitioners and licensed vocational nurses will staff the walk-in clinics, If necessary, they can use telemedicine to consult with physicians.

The telemedicine element is "going to reduce the dead ends in the retail environment for healthcare," John Holcomb, Target's vice president of healthcare, told MedCity News. Kaiser patients' digital health records will be integrated with their records at Target, he said, although access to that data is for healthcare purposes only.

The partnership is the "latest in a list of collaborations between the hospital and retail world," H&HN Daily reported, blurring the line between the two. Healthcare networks increasingly are "buddying up to CVS, Walgreens and the like, looking to add access points to their systems, spread their brand in the community and collaborate with clinic-employed nurse practitioners"--although in this case, Kaiser is providing the nurse practitioners, according to the article.

Walmart also has jumped in the primary-care clinic business, opening retail urgent care clinics in South Carolina and Texas with more to come. The retail giant is operating its own clinics rather than a cooperative venture with local hospitals. Walmart contracts with QuadMed, which sells clinics to companies that want to provide direct care to employees rather than provide health insurance.

A study by Walgreens found that patient visits to retail clinics increased to 17 percent in 2013 from 4 percent in 2007, while return visits increased to more than 50 percent in 2012 and 2013 from 15 percent in 2007.

For more information:
- here's the announcement
- check out the MedCity News article
- read the H&HN Daily article
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