At MinuteClinic, we’re helping people on their path to better health by making high-quality medical care more affordable and convenient. Patients can receive treatment for acute illnesses in addition to wellness services including vaccinations, screenings, weight loss, and chronic disease monitoring. With more than 1,100 clinics in 33 states and the District of Columbia, MinuteClinic is the largest and fastest-growing retail walk-in medical clinic, representing more than half of all retail medical clinics in the United States.
We sat down with MinuteClinic President Andrew Sussman, M.D., to learn more about MinuteClinic’s expanding role in the health care system, and where the company is headed.
Why are retail clinics gaining in popularity?
The trend toward the use of retail clinics is a response to a number of factors that are shaping the health care marketplace. With the Affordable Care Act, we have millions of newly insured Americans seeking care, placing stress on a system that already suffers from a shortage of primary care physicians. In fact, that shortage is expected to reach 45,000 doctors by 2020.
And our population is getting older, too. With thousands of Baby Boomers reaching the age of 65 every day, their demand for health care services will only increase as they age. Finally, the national epidemics of obesity, diabetes and other chronic illnesses mean that more people need more care. Retail health clinics can address all of these issues through their convenience, affordability and the growing list of services offered for both common acute and chronic illnesses.
How does MinuteClinic fit into the larger health care landscape?
We see our MinuteClinic offering as complementary and collaborative with primary care medical homes, and helpful to the health care system overall. For example, approximately 50 percent of the patients we see do not have a primary care provider – we can provide the resources and encouragement they need to find one.
One of the most exciting ways we collaborate with the medical community is through our clinical affiliations with major health systems around the country. These relationships create opportunities for a variety of collaborative programs, including the development of joint clinical programs and electronic medical records integration. In addition, they lay the groundwork for MinuteClinic’s participation in accountable care organizations, patient-centered medical homes, and other integrated networks of care.
Our clinical affiliations currently number more than 40, and include partnerships with nationally recognized institutions such as Emory Healthcare, Henry Ford Health System, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, UCLA Health and Cleveland Clinic.
How does MinuteClinic compare to traditional health care delivery methods in terms of cost and quality?
MinuteClinic helps prevent the unnecessary use of higher-cost sites of care, such as emergency rooms, for routine care and is addressing unmet needs for access to primary care. Both help to hold down overall costs of care. To ensure quality, our Joint Commission-accredited model relies on adherence to evidence-based guidelines.
MinuteClinic’s impact on quality and affordability has been well documented: a 2009 Rand-sponsored study published in Annals of Internal Medicine demonstrated our care was equal in quality to other ambulatory settings and to emergency departments. The study also suggested that care delivered at MinuteClinic was 40 percent to 80 percent less expensive than alternative sites. In addition, a study of employees showed that those who used MinuteClinic had 8 percent lower overall health care costs compared to matched non-users. Our pharmacy benefit management clients have also begun leveraging MinuteClinic’s cost advantage to address the health care needs of their employees more efficiently.
What’s next for MinuteClinic?
We’re working to transform primary care by expanding our national footprint, offering new clinical services and collaborating with health systems. We plan to reach a goal of 1,500 clinics, and in time, half of all Americans will have a MinuteClinic within 10 miles of home.