Retail clinics continue to play a growing and important role in health care delivery in the U.S., and a new research study from Walgreens (NYSE: WAG) (Nasdaq: WAG) shows patients are relying more on nurse practitioners at retail clinics to provide chronic and preventive health services. The study also reveals marked increases in the number of patients who are making return visits to clinics.
Healthcare Clinic at Walgreens (Photo: Business Wire)
The Walgreens study found the percentage of visits to Healthcare Clinic locations for preventive services, screening and chronic visit utilization (combined) increased from 4 percent in 2007 to 17 percent in 2013. The study also found the annual percentage of return patient visits to Healthcare Clinic climbed from 15 percent in 2007, to more than 50 percent in both 2012 and 2013.
“Access to care in the community, and the growing need to support patients with chronic diseases are two of the biggest challenges facing our health care system,” said Harry Leider, M.D., Walgreens chief medical officer. “This further demonstrates that retail clinics can be instrumental in providing that care, driving patient engagement, and working in coordination with physicians and other primary care providers to foster continuity of care to support more patients.”
Additional study findings include:
- For patients age 17 and under, visits for both preventive services and vaccinations increased by 180 percent
- For patients ages 18 to 64, visits for health testing increased by 90 percent, while overall preventive health service visits increased 66 percent
- For patients age 65 and older, acute visits increased 84 percent
“More consumers are relying on Healthcare Clinic and our nurse practitioners as a trusted source of quality care,” said Suzanne Hansen, Walgreens group vice president, Healthcare Clinic. “Our expansion of chronic and preventive services last year is helping to drive more return visits from our patients, which is key to the patient-provider relationship and our ability to deliver personalized care.”