The Department of Veterans Affairs this week announced a partnership with Phoenix VA Health Care System, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, and CVS' MinuteClinic to expand care to healthcare services in the Phoenix area.
Phoenix VA HCS nurses will now be able to refer veterans to MinuteClinics through the Veterans Choice Program. According to a prepared release, about 120,000 veterans will now have access to 24 different MinuteClinic locations.
The partnership is a way to relieve pressure on the Phoenix VA system. Critics have said that VA patients often have to wait more than two weeks for an appointment and a congressional committee in 2014 found that VA hospital patients in Phoenix died awaiting medical care,The Arizona Republic reported.
Dr. Baligh Yehia, deputy VA undersecretary for health for community care, said the idea is to provide veterans with easy access to personalized care through a network of federal and private providers. The move is another private-public collaboration with aims to engage and promote a healthier population. Providers and companies are looking for new ways to engage each other and their community in order to help bend healthcare costs.
Specially, this partnership seeks to address access to care for veterans as well as reduce wait times.
The partnership will facilitate care coordination through electronic health information sharing, which is similar to a VA program tested by the Palo Alto VA Health Care System in California. MinuteClinic nurses will send summaries to the veteran’s VA primary care physician after visits, which allows the doctor to follow up with the patient, if necessary.
Health leaders view MinuteClinics and similar retail clinics as a way to reduce wait times, improve access to care, and cut costly hospital emergency department visits. Retail clinics have become a popular way to get care for the flu, colds and minor injuries. There are about 1,110 MinuteClinics and 3,000 retail clinics across the country. In 2006, there were only about 90 retail clinics.