Take Care Clinics Could Help Ease Emergency Department Overcrowding

-Research Shows Up to One in Four Emergency Department Visits Could Take Place at Alternative Care Sites-

-Potential Health Care Savings of $4.4 Billion Annually Including Reduced Costs for Patients and Payers-

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Alternative sites for health care, including retail clinics and urgent care centers, could alleviate unnecessary emergency department overcrowding and save the health care system billions of dollars, according to new research published in the September issue of Health Affairs.1 The research shows between 13.7 and 27.1 percent of emergency department visits, or up to one in four visits, could take place at retail clinics or urgent care centers, with a potential cost savings of $4.4 billion annually. According to the research, retail clinics, such as Take Care Clinics located at select Walgreens drugstores, have also been shown to save patients $279-$460 a visit compared with emergency department costs.

Patients are increasingly looking for alternative health care options. A second study published in the September issue of Health Affairs found only 42 percent of the 354 million annual visits for acute care are made to patients’ personal physicians2. As the physician shortage increases, retail clinics have the capability to alleviate some of the pressure by treating more patients in nonemergency situations, at a lower cost than other settings, while also helping to advocate for patients who need to be connected to the health care system.

“This research reaffirms the need for alternative sites of care to help ease the pressure of overcrowded emergency departments and long wait times that are often necessary to get an appointment with patients’ primary care providers,” said Hal F. Rosenbluth, Walgreens senior vice president, president of Walgreens Health and Wellness division and co-founder of Take Care Health Systems. “The fact that $4.4 billion could be saved by utilizing options like Take Care Clinics and other retail and urgent care clinics is a wake-up call to patients, employers and health plans that money spent on health care can be better allocated to help ease the pressure on an already burdened system. We have always believed that Take Care Clinics were an important part of the solution to the health care crisis in the U.S., but this research, along with Take Care Clinics’ record of high-quality care, makes this point more poignantly than ever.”

Earlier this month, the American Journal of Medical Quality published a study from the Jefferson School of Population Health which showed the quality of care delivered in Take Care Clinics for treatment of pharyngitis (inflammation of the throat) and upper respiratory infections (URI) meets or exceeds the quality of the care delivered in other settings. In August 2010, Retail Clinician published a report from Gallup highlighting the patient experience at Take Care Clinics. Of note was Take Care Clinics’ ranking in the top 10 percent of all organizations Gallup measures globally in engaging patients and customers. In addition, Gallup found that nine out of every 10 patients strongly feel that the nurse practitioner or physician assistant spends enough time with them during a Take Care Clinic visit. A similar number strongly feels that the nurse practitioner or physician assistant carefully listens to them and explains things in a way that is easy to understand.

“Take Care Clinics were designed to offer patients high-quality care in a simple and easy fashion,” said Sandra F. Ryan, RN, MSN, CPNP, FAANP and chief nurse practitioner officer for Take Care Health Systems. “We are playing an integral role in health care reform by providing an entry into the health care system for many Americans through both our retail clinics as well as our worksite health centers. By offering quality health care where people live and work, Take Care Health Systems is improving the lives of our patients, connecting them within the existing health care community and reducing the burden on the health care system as a whole. This trend could continue as health plans and employers explore ways to encourage patients to utilize retail clinics more frequently instead of making trips to the emergency department.”

The Health Affairs article by Weinick, Burns, and Mehrotra looked at data provided by retail clinics and urgent care centers in 2007 and compared it to emergency department visit data in 2006. The researchers used a list of health conditions that are commonly treated at retail clinics and urgent care centers to determine the number of visits that could have been treated at alternative sites. The research found that 13.7 percent of emergency department visits could take place at a retail clinic and an additional 13.4 percent of visits could take place at an urgent care center, for a combined total of 27.1 percent. The researchers lowered this estimate to 16.8 percent when taking into account hours that retail clinics and urgent care centers are open.

Take Care Clinics are walk-in, professional health care centers located at select Walgreens drugstores across the country. Board-certified family nurse practitioners and physician assistants treat patients 18 months and older, focusing on the prevention, treatment and management of common illnesses. Take Care Clinics are open seven days a week, with extended evening and weekend hours. To date, Take Care Clinics have treated more than 3.5 million patients nationwide. Take Care Health Providers encourage all patients to have a health care home, a practitioner they see routinely for on-going medical needs and routine exams.

About Take Care Health Systems

Take Care Health Systems (http://www.takecarehealthsystem.com), a wholly owned subsidiary of Walgreens (NYSE, NASDAQ: WAG) and part of Walgreens Health and Wellness division, is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health and wellness centers and convenient care clinics in the country. TCHS is comprised of Take Care Consumer Solutions (www.takecarehealth.com) and Take Care Health Employer Solutions (www.takecareemployersolutions.com). Take Care Consumer Solutions manages Take Care Clinics at select Walgreens drugstores throughout the country. Patient care at Take Care Clinics is provided by Take Care Health Services, an independently owned state professional corporation established in each market. Take Care Health Employer Solutions manages primary care, health and wellness, occupational health, pharmacy and fitness centers at large employer campuses. Combined, Take Care Health Systems manages more than 700 worksite and retail health care centers.


Weinick, R. M., Burns, R. M., & Mehrotra, A. Many Emergency Department Visits Could Be Managed At Urgent Care Centers And Retail Clinics. Health Affairs (Millwood). 2010; 29(9), 1630-1636. Archived and available at www.healthaffairs.org


Pitts, S. R., Carrier, E. R., Rich, E. C., & Kellerman, A. L. Where Americans Get Acute Care: Increasingly, It's Not At Their Doctor's Office. Health Affairs (Millwood). 2010; 29(9), 1620-1629. Archived and available at www.healthaffairs.org


For Take Care Health Systems
Dan Zacchei, 212-446-1882
[email protected]

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  Pennsylvania

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Practice Management  Health  Hospitals