WOONSOCKET, R.I. — MinuteClinic, the retail clinic arm of CVS Health, has introduced a new tool to speed up the wait time for patients by allowing them to hold a place in line from their smartphones, computers or tablets.
MinuteClinic said Thursday that the new system is now available to patients visiting its locations inside CVS Pharmacy stores and Longs Drugs stores in Hawaii. Plans call for the solution to be expanded to Target-based clinics later this year.
The company noted that the service debuts at the same time as MinuteClinic expands its suite of health care services and surpasses 30 million patient visits. In total, CVS Health operates more than 1,100 retail medical clinics in CVS Pharmacy and Target stores nationwide.
Using the digital tool, patients can view current wait times online at the clinic they plan on visiting. They then enter the reason for their visit and provide an email address or phone number in MinuteClinic’s secure system to receive a confirmation code and reminder messages via email or text. Patients then receive an estimated time to arrive at the clinic. Once at the selected clinic, they sign in at the kiosk and enter their unique confirmation code. They are then ready to be seen as soon as the practitioner is available based on the order in which the confirmation was received.
“Since introducing the first store-based, walk-in clinics in 2000, MinuteClinic has consistently developed new ways to evolve its model to make health care services more convenient for today’s consumer,” Andrew Sussman, president of CVS MinuteClinic and executive vice president and associate chief medical officer of CVS Health, said in a statement. “We know patients are demanding added convenience as they interact with the health care system. The option to hold a place in line gives patients more choices and flexibility and will allow for prompt care when arriving at our clinics. We think of it as the ‘cure for the common wait’.”
Although bringing more convenient care options to its growing patient base, MinuteClinic has also added a variety of new medical services that include treatment of sprains and strains, gout, joint pain, indigestion and heartburn, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
In addition, MinuteClinic said it’s expanding women’s health and counseling services to include contraceptive care. Available to patients over age 18 (19 in some states), MinuteClinic practitioners can see women interested in starting birth control or changing their present method of contraception to develop a customized plan.
Nurse practitioners and physician assistants at MinuteClinic specialize in family health care and can diagnose, treat and write prescriptions for common family illnesses such as strep throat; ear, eye, sinus, bladder and bronchial infections; nausea, vomiting and diarrhea; indigestion. Acne, rashes and skin conditions; sprains and strains; and minor wounds and abrasions are also treated. Common vaccinations are available at most locations, such as influenza, tetanus, pneumonia and Hepatitis A & B.
Prevention and wellness services include screening and monitoring for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, tuberculosis (TB) testing, contraceptive care, motion sickness prevention and smoking cessation.
At the conclusion of each visit, patients receive educational material, a prescription — when clinically appropriate — and a visit summary. A copy of the diagnostic record can be sent electronically, or by fax or mail, to a primary care provider with patient permission.