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Welcome to the Medical Neighborhood
Health care experts have often lamented that the U.S. has the most expensive health care system in the world, yet we rank almost last among industrialized countries in patient health outcomes.1 How can this be? What can we do about it?
While the problem is complicated, one way we can work to address these challenges is by creating a connected “medical neighborhood” for patients, focused on improving access, bolstering quality and driving down costs. The medical neighborhood model focuses on collaboration, coordination and communication among patients and their providers.
A Centralized Model
In a medical neighborhood, all parts of the health care system are represented: primary care, pharmacy, retail clinics, acute and post-acute care, diagnostic services, public health, and community and social services. All play an important role in keeping patients healthy, but rather than following a sometimes fragmented path from one provider to another, a patient’s care is led by a primary care or family physician (also known as a “medical home”). This focus on primary care has many benefits, including decreased costs, improved health outcomes and even increased longevity.
To strengthen the medical neighborhood, CVS Health is collaborating with Health Is Primary, a campaign sponsored by the nation’s eight leading family medicine organizations. These include the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians and the North American Primary Care Research Group.
The joint initiative is aimed at increasing coordination of care between different parts of the health care system, specifically primary care providers and our CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations. Through the collaboration, CVS Health will support the campaign’s efforts to help patients understand when, where and how to access the services they need within the medical neighborhood.
Extending the Hours of the Medical Neighborhood
“When done right, retail clinics can play an important complementary role to primary care in the medical neighborhood,” says Dr. Glen Stream, a family physician and President and Board Chair of Family Medicine for America’s Health, a coalition of the nation’s eight leading family medicine groups and the sponsor of the Health Is Primary campaign. “We believe the CVS Health approach to integration and collaboration with primary care physicians and health systems to improve and provide a coordinated medical neighborhood for patients is a model for how retail clinics can support and promote primary care.”
With more than 1,100 locations across 33 states and the District of Columbia, MinuteClinic retail clinics are well positioned to play a key role in patient health by extending the hours of the medical neighborhood to evenings and weekends. MinuteClinic makes it easier to access care when it’s needed, focusing on acute care, preventive care and supporting management of chronic conditions, while also ensuring connection and communication with the patient’s medical home.
CVS Health and MinuteClinic are also affiliated with more than 60 of the nation’s leading health systems, building strong connections with institutions like the Cleveland Clinic, Henry Ford Health System and Emory Healthcare.
These clinical affiliations foster collaboration between MinuteClinic and health system physicians, facilitate joint programs for treatment of chronic disease and enable communication between electronic medical records. As a result, MinuteClinic providers can send a care summary to a patient’s primary care physician following the visit. Patients who do not have a primary care physician are encouraged to obtain one, and are even given a referral list of local physicians who are accepting new patients, to help them get started.
“We know that patient health and outcomes improve when patients use the resources available to them throughout the medical neighborhood and when providers across the health care system are working together,” says Andrew J. Sussman, M.D., President of MinuteClinic and Executive Vice President and Associate Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health. “By partnering with primary care and family medicine, we will continue to improve provider collaboration and help ensure all patients have access to primary care within a coordinated medical neighborhood.”
To learn more about the benefits of a medical neighborhood and the Health Is Primary campaign, visit www.HealthIsPrimary.org.
1. Source: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, 2014 Update: How the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally, 2014 Update, The Commonwealth Fund, June 2014