Two area hospital groups are teaming up with national pharmacy chains to improve healthcare at in-store clinics.
Texas Health Resources said Wednesday that it entered into a clinical agreement with CVS Caremark under which doctors will help supervise and consult on healthcare at CVS’ MinuteClinics. Baylor Scott & White Health has a similar partnership with Walgreens that will launch next week.
CVS has 34 MinuteClinics in Dallas-Fort Worth that are staffed by nurse practioners and physician assistants and plans to add seven more to existing stores by Jan. 1.
Texas Health Physicians Group has about 900 providers in its network.
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“Our doctors will be available for consultation and as a destination for referrals if the patient needs a follow-up,” said Adam Myers, Texas Health Physician Group’s chief medical officer. “And if we have a patient of ours that potentially needs some after-hours care, we can refer our own patients to CVS.”
The two companies use the same electronic medical records software, which will allow them to easily share patient records while maintaining patient privacy. About half of patients seen by MinuteClinics do not have a primary care provider, and Myers said MinuteClinics will be able to refer them to Texas Health doctors.
Myers said Texas Health doctors will also perform regularly scheduled reviews of the clinicians at the MinuteClinics to ensure consistent healthcare quality.
“We believe this affliation with CVS reinforces our mission of keeping people healthy and out of the hospital,” Myers said.
Texas law requires some doctor supervision of clinics that are staffed by healthcare professionals like nurse practitioners.
In its deal with Walgreens, Baylor physicians will oversee about a dozen clinics in North Texas, with the number doubling early next year. The clinics, which often see patients with minor illnesses such as earaches and sore throats, are a more convenient alternative for customers as they are usually open about 80 hours a week compared with a doctor’s office, which is typically open about 40 hours, said Carl Couch, president of Baylor Scott & White Quality Alliance.
The Walgreens clinics will also be in the network for more than 45,000 people whose healthcare is managed by Baylor, Couch said. That number could swell to 145,000 in January, he said. For those people, a clinic visit will be considerably cheaper than a trip to the emergency room for a minor ailment. For example, a person with a sinus infection would save money going to a Walgreens clinic.
“That visit in the emergency room costs hundreds of dollars, but a drop-in to the Walgreens clinic at 7 p.m. when you got home from work is a wonderful alternative to that for a fraction of the cost,” Couch said.
Baylor is also working on a similar agreement with Wal-Mart for in-store clinics in North Texas, Couch said.