WOONSOCKET, R.I. — An assessment of the quality of care that MinuteClinic retail medical clinics delivered for three common acute conditions suggests that care is the same, and in some cases better, than that delivered at emergency departments (EDs) and ambulatory care facilities, according to the CVS Health Research Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
The findings, which focused on ear infections, strep throat and urinary tract infections, were published in the October issue of The American Journal of Managed Care.
This study of 75,000 patients, based on data from a major insurer, is the largest to date evaluating the quality of care for acute conditions at retail clinics as compared with other care settings. Quality of care was assessed using 14 measures constructed from RAND Corp.’s quality assurance tools as well as guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of Family Practitioners and the Infectious Disease Society of America.
“As we all work to manage rising costs while dealing with a shortage of primary care physicians, identifying high-quality health care delivery systems that provide convenient access to affordable care is increasingly important,” said William Shrank, chief scientific officer at CVS Health. “This study is the largest to date evaluating the quality of care for acute conditions at retail clinics such as MinuteClinic, and the findings are consistent with previous research in suggesting that care at retail clinics for common acute conditions is the same or better than the care delivered in more costly EDs and urgent care facilities.”
When taken together with evidence that retail clinics are most cost-effective and even cost-saving to patients, these results underscore the promise of retail clinics in offering care of high quality at lower cost than other settings, according to the researchers. It also points to the potential role of retail clinics in improving care coordination for chronic disease management and population health management.
“MinuteClinic has long been focused on providing accessible, high-quality, affordable health care that is complementary and supportive of the primary care provider,” said Andrew Sussman, president of CVS/minuteclinic and senior vice president and associate chief medical officer at CVS Health. “This data reiterates the high level of quality care provided by our MinuteClinic practitioners and suggests the important role our clinics can play in the rapidly evolving health care landscape.”
MinuteClinic is affiliated with more than 40 major health systems around the country to improve collaboration, integrate medical records and collaborate on chronic disease care. Its nurse practitioners and physician assistants specialize in family health care and can diagnose, treat and write prescriptions for such common illnesses as strep throat and ear, eye, sinus, bladder and bronchial infections.