The rapid growth of retail medical clinics has brought health care right into local neighborhoods, improving access for millions of Americans. MinuteClinic, the largest provider of retail health care, is playing a big part in this expansion. Our objective is to provide quality care to millions of Americans while keeping our prices as close to cost as possible with most services available for less than $100 and more than 80% covered by insurance.
MinuteClinic is the only retail health care provider to receive four consecutive accreditations from The Joint Commission, the national evaluation and certifying agency for nearly 20,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® demonstrates MinuteClinic's compliance with the organization’s national standards for ambulatory health care quality and safety.
With more than five million patient visits in 2015, MinuteClinic added 85 new locations, including in two new states, Maine and Kentucky, as well as our first in a Navarro Drug Store in Florida. By year-end, there were more than 1,000 MinuteClinic locations in 33 states and the District of Columbia.
Broadening Our Services at MinuteClinic
Health care providers throughout the United States are experiencing a similar phenomenon. Demand for their services is exploding while, at the same time, they are struggling to keep pace with the demand. This prompted us to consider how MinuteClinic can help fill the gap, beyond our traditional suite of services. For example, in 2015, we began offering care for gastro-intestinal illness, muscular skeletal pain, and headaches. In 2016, we will launch women’s health services, including contraception counseling as well as first-trimester wellness checks for pregnant women.
Expanding MinuteClinic’s Reach through Telehealth
As the U.S. population continues to embrace online and mobile platforms, we are investing in advanced technologies to enhance and extend telehealth — the delivery of health care using electronic and telecommunications technologies — and other emerging digital health care opportunities. Our goal is to use technology to provide the same convenient, affordable and quality care offered in our MinuteClinic locations to an expanded group of patients.
Our initial pilots in California and Texas demonstrated that we could use telehealth to deliver high-quality care and achieve high levels of patient satisfaction based on quality, convenience, and effectiveness. Moreover, about 20% of the telehealth visits provided access to care for patients who live beyond our pre-existing footprint.
We also began to work with direct-to-consumer telehealth providers in 2015, including American Well, Doctor on Demand, and Teladoc, to improve and expand the care of patients at home. As a first step, we initiated several new pilots, including how to make telehealth physician care accessible through digital platforms. Another pilot is exploring the potential of expanding the scope of care offered at MinuteClinic by having our practitioners consult with telehealth physicians. We are also testing whether our retail stores can serve as sites for in-person exams to facilitate telehealth medical visits.
In total, we conducted approximately 7,500 telehealth visits in 2015.
Meeting the Needs of Diverse Populations
Through the expansion of MinuteClinic locations and services, we are reaching a more diverse group of patients, and we are refining our ability to meet their needs.
For example, when we opened our first MinuteClinic in a Navarro location, we added Spanish-language options to kiosks and ensured the clinic's nurse practitioners were bilingual. Navarro is a 33-store pharmacy chain, which CVS Health acquired in 2014, serving the Hispanic community in south Florida. We see this first foray by MinuteClinic as an opportunity to better serve the Hispanic community, whether through additional MinuteClinic locations and services, or through the 12 CVS Pharmacy y mas stores we opened in 2015. Eventually, we hope to expand beyond this region to other markets with sizable Hispanic populations.
In 2015, MinuteClinic also focused on improving accessibility for patients with visual, hearing, and other disabilities. This included providing live sign language interpreters upon request and helping to ensure that patients with visual impairments received treatment and vital information in accessible formats. We are also exploring the most effective method to obtain accurate weight measurements for patients who rely on wheelchairs.