During its second-quarter earnings call on Tuesday, CVS Health said it plans to expand its MinuteClinic program to help people with chronic diseases.
CVS is extending a test program that targets diabetes patients to help them monitor glucose levels, medication adherence and lifestyle habits.
The company also wants to add programs to manage asthma, hypertension, high cholesterol and depression over the next two years.
CVS’ MinuteClinics posted second-quarter revenue growth of 8% compared to declines in the company's retail and pharmacy sales segments.
The company has seen success in its more than 1,100 retail clinics, especially in helping patients with chronic illness. CVS has found a niche in fighting chronic disease, which it sees as a way to complement its clinics, while benefiting its pharmacies with potential prescriptions.
In addition to chronic disease care, the Woonsocket, R.I.-based company recently announced a partnership with the Veterans Administration in April that expanded care to healthcare services in the Phoenix area. The program allows Phoenix VA Health Care System nurses to refer veterans to MinuteClinics through the Veterans Choice Program.
The company isn’t the only one that sees growth potentials in outpatient care. Payers, hospitals and other companies are investing more in those services. Some hospitals are even looking at former retail spaces as locations to open new outpatient facilities.
Others are investing in urgent care centers. American Development Partners, a private equity and real estate firm, recently invested $1 billion in American Family Care. The deal will allow the largest urgent care center operator in the country to grow from more than 180 clinics to close to 500 locations.
There are more than 2,300 care clinics in the U.S., according to the Convenient Care Association (CCA). Payers view clinics as lower cost options to emergency department (ED) care. In fact, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield is no longer covering ED services that it deems unnecessary in Missouri, Kentucky and Georgia, in hopes of getting more patients to visit clinics rather than EDs. However, the policy is currently facing opposition.
Many healthcare leaders view retail clinics and urgent care centers as a way to reduce healthcare costs and reduce ED utilization and wait times, but an Annals of Emergency Medicine report found that they haven’t reduced non-emergency visits to EDs. However, the report also found retail clinics have improved access to healthcare, especially for people looking for care after-hours and patients who don’t have a primary care physician.
Another study this year, which was by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, said retail clinic visits doubled for commercially insured members during the past five years — though retail clinics could have treated 30% of the ED visits. More retail clinic visits is a positive step, but the 30% figure shows more education is still needed to teach patients about when a retail clinic is a better idea than the ED. Helping people with chronic illness is one way to spread the message for retail clinics like CVS' MinuteClinics.