Walgreen clinics expand services to treat chronic illnesses

By Healthcare Facilities Today
April 5, 2013

Walgreen Co. is expanding the types of services it offers in its approximately 370 in-store Take Care Clinics, the company announced April 4.  

The clinics, which are generally staffed by either nurse practitioners or physician assistants, usually treat minor illnesses such as sinus infections and ankle sprains. But according to the Associated Press, the clinics will be expanding patient care to include the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure. 

Walgreen's decision follows a move a few years ago by competitor CVS Caremark Corp. to monitor chronic conditions at most of its 640 MinuteClinics, the article says.

Dr. Alan E. London, chief medical officer for the Take Care Clinics, told the AP almost half of the patients who seek treatment at Walgreen clinics don't have a primary care physician or have trouble finding one who accepts Medicare or Medicaid coverage.

"We're filling a niche for patients who need access," London told the AP. "When we uncover gaps in care and we're capable of closing those gaps, it's the right thing to do."

According to the article, there is some debate within the healthcare community about the capability of such clinics to adequately service patients for conditions traditionally treated by primary care physicians. 

Regardless of the debate over capability, the trend in retail healthcare clinics means more competition for traditional healthcare providers looking to expand their market share. 

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