Corner Care Clinics Transform Patient Treatment

MARCH 01, 2007
Eileen Koutnik-Fotopoulos, Staff Writer

Registered Pharmacist Julie Acra describes the Corner Care Clinic in the Medicine Shoppe pharmacy she owns in Greensburg, Ind, as groundbreaking. The clinic, which opened in mid-December 2006, has seen a steady stream of patients taking advantage of the services provided.

Health clinics have been opening in pharmacies across the country. Corner Care Clinics provide compassionate, convenient, and cost-effective care of common ailments for patients aged 2 years and older. Now patients with cuts, scrapes, colds, allergies, asthma, and other conditions can visit a Corner Care Clinic and receive treatment from a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. If the treatment requires a prescription, the medical staff can write a script that can easily be filled right at the pharmacy.

The clinics also offer screenings for blood pressure or blood sugar and sports physicals, for example. Flu, pneumonia, and tetanus vaccines are available in addition.

Overall, the response has been positive at the Greensburg location. "Our patients are very excited about this new service. They've come to trust the pharmacy and now can go to the clinic for treatment and then come to the pharmacy to get the prescription filled," said Acra.

Corner Care Clinics are located in Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio. Keith Cook, vice president of pharmacy solutions at Medicine Shoppe, a Cardinal Health company, projects 30 to 35 additional clinics opening this year in Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy stores in 15 states. The clinics are operated by MindGent Healthcare Clinics, a subsidiary of MindGent Healthcare Services.

"We're always looking to provide any convenient health care need, as well as an opportunity for the community and franchisees," said Cook. "The goal is to provide the same quality of health care that is faster and less expensive than the emergency room or urgent care."

Medicine Shoppe's primary goal is to meet the needs of its patients. The company also wants to ensure that it is satisfying the needs of franchise owners with models that support them. "The clinics do that in today's environment," said Cook.

For patients, the clinics provide a convenient alternative to scheduling and waiting for an appointment with their physicians for routine health services. The model is set up to treat patients with or without insurance. It also provides an avenue for patients who do not have a primary care physician.

Medicine Shoppe did seek input from franchise owners about the clinics. They target locations based on the need for a clinic in the area. Many individuals living in rural communities are forced to travel great distances to the nearest clinic or wait at the emergency room of the hospital for treatment.

The advertising component falls on MindGent's shoulders. It is their responsibility to market the clinic and visit the physicians in the area to inform them of the clinic's opening.

The emergence of pharmacy health clinics is not meant to step on practitioner's toes. In fact, Cook and Acra said that physician feedback has been positive. "Everyone has been curious, including the physicians," Acra said. "The pharmacy has such a close relationship with the physician offices in the area that I talked with the physicians before opening the clinic."

"I didn't want to surprise anyone or have anyone feel I was stepping on their toes," continued Acra. "I explained that patients being treated were mostly uninsured or didn't have a regular physician. I asked the physicians if I could put them on a referral list for any patients that required more extensive treatment."

Word of mouth has helped Acra's clinic. Aside from parents with children favoring the convenience and service provided, the older population has referred family members after visiting the clinic. The new service has also helped the pharmacy's bottom line. "Of the patients seen in the clinic, 60% are new patients, so we've been able to capture the business," added Acra.

Health care experts believe the in-store clinics are a growing trend. Cook and Acra share the assessment. "It's absolutely a trend, especially with the rising health care costs," said Cook.

"I think a clinic in a pharmacy shows we're really professionals who work hand in hand with other practitioners and not just pharmacists who fill prescriptions," noted Acra.