Retail health clinics part of the population health management puzzle, says RediClinic exec

When it comes to population health management, retail health clinics have an important role that includes not only immunizing patients against the flu virus but coaching chronically ill patients in disease management programs, Peter Goldbach, M.D., chief medical officer of RediClinic and Health Dialog, said in an interview with HealthITAnalytics.

The convenience and location of retail health clinics allow them to interact with patients, which ultimately means they are in a "unique position" to help manage population health, the article says.

"From the very beginning, it was minor urgent care, and then they started offering employment and school physicals, immunizations, travel medicine [and we] offer a medically supervised weight loss program that you can access both in the clinic ... and online," Goldbach told the publication. And services are expanding, he said.

Retail health isn't an isolated part of healthcare and the industry should view it as part of the solution, Nancy Gagliano, M.D., senior vice president of CVS Caremark and chief medical officer for CVS MinuteClinic, the largest retail clinic provider in the country, said earlier this year. Gagliano, one of the panelists at this year's American Hospital Association's annual meeting, told attendees that retail clinics provide patients with access to basic healthcare, eliminating unnecessary visits to emergency rooms.

Looking ahead, Goldbach said he expects the combination of retail health clinics and patient-centered medical homes to help with population health and chronic disease management, according to the article. "A lot of what's been written about chronic care and how we're looking to improve it and keep care coordinated ... centers on patient-centered medical homes," he said.

Indeed, retail clinics also could play a vital role in addressing sociodemographic aspects of healthcare, according to a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation earlier this year. Retail clinics' convenience and lower costs appeal to consumers, but their expanded presence in the market could also benefit the healthcare sector as well, the report noted. Retail or urgent care clinics could handle up to 27 percent of emergency room visits, generating annual savings of up to $4.4 billion. 

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