How physician offices and retail clinics can collaborate [Interview]

While primary care practices represent the center of the patient-centered medical home, medical neighborhoods provide a valuable extension of those hubs to best ensure population health, according to Glen Stream, M.D., president and board chair of Family Medicine for America's Health (FMAHealth).

FMAHealth's Health is Primary campaign today announced a collaboration with CVS Health to increase coordination of care between primary care providers and retail pharmacies and clinics, including CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic. 

In an exclusive interview with FiercePracticeManagement, Stream discussed the role of primary care offices in making such partnerships work.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

FPM: What are the driving forces behind this new alliance?

Stream: What we identify are principles where we really believe that the medical home remains the most important part of the care delivery, and that where appropriate and where negotiated and where it can be made to work, that the retail clinic can provide those convenient services after hours and on weekends. In a lot of ways patients vote with their feet. They're looking for that convenience and a lot of primary care practices have stepped up by expanding their evening and morning hours and having weekend hours, but not all are able to do that.

Creating clinical engagements are one way retail clinics and primary care practices can help each other. Michael Rabovsky, M.D., from the Cleveland Clinic was on our panel [today] talking about how his large, integrated medical network has done that with CVS Health. Andy Sussman, M.D., [executive vice president and associate chief medical officer of CVS Health and President, CVS/Minuteclinic] said there are more than 60 of those arrangements now around the country. That can be a model for others.

FPM: You've talked about the importance of retail clinics sharing information with practices so that they can conduct proper follow-up with their patients after they use retail clinics or other sources of after-hours care. What is practices' responsibility in ensuring this collaboration takes place?

Stream: We always talk about delivery of medical care, at least in primary care, being about relationships---between the patient and their physician. But amongst the components of the medical neighborhood, it's about relationships as well.

And so I think in communities where a retail clinic exists, primary care physicians in the community can reach out [to retail clinics] and say not just, "Here are my concerns," but also, "Here are my needs. When my office is closed, can you see my patients?"

There are a number of examples where arrangements have been set up so a patient belonging to a practice, in a community, that their medical records can be made available in the retail clinic to enable better care in addition to going back to the practice for follow-up.

FPM: How else can medical neighborhoods collaborate to improve population health?

Stream: A major focus today was about how this medical neighborhood can come together to make a difference in the health of a population or community, and one big example is tobacco. [We] talked about how the American Cancer Society engages around tobacco cessation, and how the Cleveland Clinic has done so as a large employer and large medical clinic. It really exemplified how different groups can come together and focus efforts on a huge health problem of importance.

To learn more:
- read the announcement