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MinuteClinic: Study affirms quality of care at retail clinics

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MINNEAPOLIS — MinuteClinic said a new study by think tank Rand Corp. finds that retail clinics provide health care services at lower costs and at equal or better quality than do other urgent care options.

The CVS Caremark Corp. subsidiary reported Monday that the study, which is being published in the September 1 edition of Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that the quality of care at retail clinics is on a par with that of doctors’ offices, urgent care centers and emergency rooms for certain services.

Based in part on data from MinuteClinic, the study also found that the cost of treating acute illnesses at retail clinics was 30% to 40% lower than in doctors’ offices and urgent care facilities and 80% lower than in emergency rooms, the Minneapolis-based health clinic operator said.

"This affirms our internal data which shows that costs for caring for common illnesses at retail clinics are significantly lower than other venues, such as doctors’ offices, urgent care centers and emergency rooms," Andrew Sussman, MinuteClinic president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. "Additionally, this study shows why our customer satisfaction ratings exceed 90% — patients get quality care at an affordable price."

MinuteClinic noted that the findings illustrate the value that retail clinics offer in providing quality health care and lower medical costs. And while MinuteClinic has developed a care model to provide affordable quality care for common illnesses, the company continues to work to integrate its efforts with primary care physicians for patients who are more seriously ill with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, according to Sussman.

"As Congress debates health care reform and looks for ways to better manage overall health care costs, retail clinics should be looked at as a way help achieve that goal," commented Sussman, who was hiring as COO of MinuteClinic was announced in late July.

In the Rand study, MinuteClinic said, researchers reviewed the experiences of 2,100 patients treated in clinics in Minnesota in 2005 and 2006 for middle ear infections, sore throats or urinary tract infections. The quality of medical care was judged using 14 indicators of quality and whether patients received seven preventative care services during the initial and additional visits over three months in doctors’ offices, urgent care centers and hospital emergency departments. 


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