August 28, 2013

Walgreens and Community Health Network Join Forces

community health network logoWith the Accountable Care Act continuing to unfold, the focus by CMS on interoperability and the use of EHRs nationwide, and the continued formation and study of ACOs, it is no surprise that Walgreens would find partners in the health care community and form linkages.

For the on-site community, an on-going question has to be, “Do we incorporate retail clinics into our network, or not?  And, if so, how?”  We don’t know the answer, but we do feel the question has to be asked and the implications studied. Can these retail clinics offer after-hours services at a lower cost than you can?  How do they impact quality?  If you can’t get the information from the retail clinic quickly, easily, and completely – then it may just continue to contribute to fragmented care.

That’s where the focus on interoperability comes into play and becomes so important.  It remains an amazing conundrum to us that EMR companies are still not able to integrate with each other seamlessly, that there are significant up-charges (sometimes hidden) to achieve connectivity and transfer data from an existing system to a new one, or to integrate the EMR with a simple EKG machine, for example.   Walgreens and Community Health Network have figured this out – their network will be fully integrated at the medical records level.

If you are located in the greater-Indianapolis area, this agreement between Community Health Network and Walgreen’s Healthcare Clinic sites is one to be evaluated.   (If you are not, is one of the networks coming to your locale soon?)  How could it help you?  How could it hurt your efforts to provide comprehensive care for your employees?  It is going to exist, so how do you either work with it – or help your employees to make sure they use only those healthcare sites within your own network?  This could be a big bonus for you, or, if you ignore it, a huge problem.

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Filed Under: General, Opinion

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