Anticipating the coming wave of patients under the Affordable Care Act, Group Health and Bartell Drugs are building three in-store, walk-in retail clinics in Seattle, Bellevue and Ballard. The clinics will be open to the general public and charge a set price for minor illnesses and treatments for common injuries.
The “CareClinics,” staffed with Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs), will charge $75 per visit for a list of common conditions, including colds and flu, sinus infections, allergies, burns, rashes and cuts, pinkeye, sore throat, head lice, warts, sprains and strains, bronchitis, ear infections and urinary-tract and intestinal infections. Care is available to patients age 2 and over.
The clinic will collect co-payments and bill most insurers for non-Group Health members, and create an electronic medical-record file through Epic, the most commonly used type of system, that can be forwarded to a patient’s primary-care or specialty provider, said Dr. Wellesley Chapman, medical director for the clinics. The idea is to make it convenient and easy for the customer, he said, an concept more common in the retail world than in health care. “I think we can agree that health care in general is not built around customer service,” he said.
The first site is slated to open in mid-January at Bartell Drugs in University Village. In the next two months, the partnership plans to open clinics at Crossroads in Bellevue and at a new Bartell Drugs in Ballard.
Patients have said they want more choices and more transparency, said Group Health President and CEO Scott Armstrong, who said the clinics are “a sensible extension of the things we’re doing well already.”
Too many patients go to emergency rooms for simple problems that could be easily treated at such a clinic, he said, and a many are admitted for problems that were preventable. “If your goal is to advance the overall health of a population of patients, then you should be doing exactly what Group Health is doing,” he said.
Helen Neville, Bartell Drug’s senior vice president of marketing, said her company, like Group Health, has long valued customer service. And customers were saying they wanted more options for convenient access to health care. “This is the right idea and the right partnership.”
The clinics likely will be open the same hours as the in-store pharmacies, and decisions about expanding the program will be made after a six-month evaluation, the two companies said.
In early January, the partnership will launch www.care-clinic.org for more information.