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Community taps Walgreens for health reform help

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In the era of health care reform, hospitals will face two new challenges: They will need to run higher-volume, lower-margin businesses, and they’ll be on the hook financially for what patients do even when they’re not receiving health care.

Community Health Network’s new partnership with Walgreens’ Take Care Clinics is designed to help address both issues.

The Indianapolis-based hospital system announced last week that it will form a clinical collaboration with Illinois-based Walgreens--directing patients, records and advice back and forth among Walgreens’ 14 Take Care clinics in the Indianapolis area and Community’s vast network.

Community has relationships with more than 2,000 central Indiana physicians who see patients at roughly 200 sites in the area. It even has five MedCheck clinics, which provide immediate care similar to the Take Care Clinics in Walgreens stores.

But it still made sense for Community to partner with Walgreens because many patients are far more likely to step foot in a drugstore than they are a doctor’s office—and some can be served more effectively in retail clinics, said Kyle Fisher, Community’s chief strategic development officer.

He cited one study that showed 60 percent of patients who visit a retail clinic do not have a primary care physician.

Also, a 2012 study by the Rand Corp. showed that visits to retail clinics quadrupled from 2007 to 2009, reaching nearly 6 million. In response, more hospitals around the country are forming partnerships with retail clinics.

“Health care delivery oftentimes is very fragmented. Patients choose to use different entry points to the health care system,” Fisher said. “This isn’t a decision to undo any of the fantastic work we’ve done through MedCheck and through our primary care practices or even through our employer clinics. This is really complementary as opposed to undoing a strategy that we’ve already had.”

Looked at another way, Community has some patients who come into its system via its emergency rooms at its hospitals, even though they could be served by a retail clinic. The cost of an ER visit easily can be 10 times higher than a retail clinic visit.

Under some provisions of the 2010 Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, hospitals will be asked to manage the health of a specific population of patients, and to do it for less money than the previous year. So avoiding needless ER use will be in Community’s interest.

“We’re committed to take care of any patient, no matter how they enter the system,” Fisher said. “But as we look at health care reform and population-health management, that’s one of the tasks for us, as an integrated system--to better educate our patients on how to use the system.”

Fisher said Community’s physicians will be working with the nurse practitioners at Walgreens’ Take Care Clinics to develop protocols for how to handle patients in myriad situations.

“Our physicians want to be engaged in designing how that care takes place,” he said.

 

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  • effective date?
    any idea when the actual implementation date will be, all phases complete - I believe this is wonderful news and will be a wonderful asset to patients as well as both business.

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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.

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