Retail Pharmacy Clinics Evolve to Achieve the Triple Aim

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As retail clinics plan to have a role in improving health outcomes, they must achieve the 3 components of the triple aim: access, quality, and cost.

As retail clinics plan to have a role in improving health outcomes, they must achieve the 3 components of the triple aim: access, quality, and cost. Jan E. Berger, MD, MJ, editor-in-chief of The American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits, has said that in order for retail pharmacists to realize the 3 components of the triple aim, they first need to focus on care coordination, then rethink how they do business. Now it appears that retail clinics such as Walgreens have heard this call to action, and are making changes to become care facilitators.

“There's an epidemic of obesity and chronic disease, an aging population, a shortage of primary care physicians, and millions of newly insured Americans. Those are serious [healthcare] challenges,” said Heather Helle, Walgreens’ divisional vice president, consumer solutions group. “But we’ve got an incredible footprint here at Walgreens. We believe that by extending access to healthcare through use of our clinics, we can be part of the solution.”

Walgreens has established more than 400 branded “Healthcare Clinics” nationally, staffed with nurse practitioners and physician assistants who can provide everything from preventive services like vaccinations to treatment for minor afflictions and injuries. By finding ways to improve care delivery, Walgreens says their clinics are able to center around the patient experience. As well, for many patients in rural living communities, retail clinics offer longer hours and locations that are more accessible.


Other retail clinics, like CVS clinics, are also making waves in the healthcare landscape. The retail pharmacy recently announced its decision to no longer sell cigarettes or other tobacco products, a decision which has spurred a cry for other retail pharmacies to follow suit. Policy makers argue that if retail clinics are to become centers for healthcare delivery, they should stop supporting the sale of products that cost the health industry an estimated $289 billion a year.

“Pharmacies and drug stores, which increasingly market themselves as a source for community healthcare, send a mixed message by continuing to sell deadly tobacco products,” said New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “The fact that these stores profit from the sale of cigarettes and tobacco must take a backseat to the health of New Yorkers and customers across the country. I urge these companies to do the right thing and remove tobacco products from store shelves.”

With the right infrastructure, and with patient-centered outcomes in mind, retail clinics may have a rightful place in the continuum of providing care.

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