CVS Health this week signed two new clinical affiliations, one with Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center and another with Banner Health’s Tucson Medical Center and its ACO Arizona Connected Care. It’s the 50th such affiliation for CVS, the pharmacy chain whose 900 Minute Clinics are also a major provider of retail primary care.
In the affiliations, CVS is sharing prescription and visit information of assigned patients with the participating providers through electronic health record integration, and offering access to “clinical support, medication counseling, chronic disease monitoring and wellness programs.”
CVS, which runs 7,800 stores across the country, is one of several retailers entering healthcare along with Walgreens, Walmart and Target. While the others have various models of basic primary care, from Walmart’s branded clinics to Target’s partnerships with Kaiser Permanente, CVS is unique in forging partnerships with hospital systems and pitching both pharmacy data services and access to walk-in consults.
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These programs “enhance access to patient care, improve health outcomes and lower healthcare costs in the communities they serve," said Troyen Brennan, MD, CVS Health chief medical officer. "By integrating our electronic health records and information systems, we will collectively have a more comprehensive view of our patients, which can aid in health care decision making and help ensure patients adhere to important medications for chronic diseases."
“The fundamental challenge of managing chronic conditions is coordinating and monitoring care when patients are not here in the Rush physician’s office” said Anthony Perry, MD, vice president for ambulatory care and population health at Rush University Medical Center. “Oftentimes having patients schedule more frequent visits at Rush is not feasible, but this agreement extends our physicians’ reach through the hundreds of CVS pharmacies and retail clinics in the area.”
In the CVS affiliations, providers at the health systems receive data on interventions conducted by CVS pharmacists to try to improve medication adherence, and alerts about non-adherence, such as failure to pick up a prescription. Clinicians at the affiliate health system are also able to work with nurse practitioners and physicians assistants at the Minute Clinics.
“For those patients who do not have regular access to health care, MinuteClinic provides information to help patients in finding a primary care physician and a greater opportunity for continuity of healthcare,” CVS said in a statement. “If more comprehensive care is needed, patients can follow up with their primary care provider and have access to the services at the medical center as appropriate.” For physicians who are part of the affiliates, like Rush University Medical Center and Tucson Medical Center, CVS digitally shares Minute Clinic visit summaries with primary care providers. Non-affiliated providers receive visit summaries by mail or fax.