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CVS continues march into primary care with expansion of MinuteClinic network, chronic disease program

Five new clinics opened in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens; per earnings call CVS Health will expand chronic disease services beyond diabetes.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

CVS Health continues its expansion into patient care with the opening of additional MinuteClinic facilities in New York City and the broadening of its diabetes program to include other chronic illnesses like asthma and hypertension.

The five new clinics opened in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens and are open seven days a week with no appointment needed. They are located inside CVS Pharmacy stores and offer various wellness services for patients 18 months and older.

[Also: CVS Health, Cleveland Clinic expand clinical affiliation through quality alliance, EHR communication]

MinuteClinic, which is staffed by nurse practitioners specializing in family healthcare, diagnoses treats and issues prescriptions for illnesses like strep throat and ear, eye, sinus, bladder and bronchial infections. They can also treat minor wounds and abrasions, sprains, strains and joint pain. Common vaccinations like flu, tetanus, pneumonia and Hepatitis A & B are also offered, CVS health said. The nurse practitioners can evaluate and treat common skin conditions, such as acne, dermatitis and rosacea.

Patients receive educational material, any authorized prescriptions and a visit summary. Clinics can also communicate records to primary care providers with the patient's permission.

[Also: Cigna teams with CVS Health in collaboration to rival urgent care clinics]

According to an earnings call and Wall Street Journal report, this week CVS health also told its audience during an earnings call that it had plans to expand on its population health and diabetes initiative to help patients manage other chronic diseases.

The company's diabetes program launched earlier this year and helps people closely monitor glucose levels, adherence to medication and lifestyle habits. The company said they will expand to other illnesses including asthma, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and depression, said executive vice president and COO Jonathan C. Roberts. Patients must have a health plan that contracts with CVS to take advantage of their programs.

"I do think there is share shift. There will be share shift that comes as clients adopt these programs and we demonstrate our ability to lower overall healthcare costs," Roberts said on the call.

With chronic disease treatment accounting for 70 percent of the four-trillion-dollar annual healthcare spend, the WSJ quoted several experts as saying any effort to combat chronic disease is welcome.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn