Health Care in Retail Settings: An Expert Panel Discussion

The day after health care retail giant CVS announced a new alliance with health insurance provider Aetna, the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health held an event on health care in retail settings.

As Health Policy and Management Professorial Lecturer Carol A. Kelly told the event’s 280-plus in-person and online attendees, the first U.S. retail health care clinic opened up in 2000.  By 2006, around 200 retail health clinics existed, a number that grew to over 2,800 locations in 2017.  These readily available clinics offer treatments for routine medical issues, including vaccinations, and they are impacting patient care and public health.  The potential for future growth is clear, given the nation’s more than 50,000 pharmacy locations and 300,000 pharmacists.

During the event, Thomas E. Menighan, BS, Pharm, MBA, ScD, executive vice president and chief executive officer for the American Pharmacists Association, called retail pharmacies today’s community health centers.  He pointed out at least 280,000 pharmacists are now trained to provide immunizations.  Walgreens now supplies 2-3 million flu shots per year, says Ed Kaleta, vice president of Government Relations and U.S. Public Policy for the Walgreen drugstore chain.

Given the nation’s shortage of primary care physicians and aging population, the use of retail health care clinics is only expected to increase, pointed out John Gay, senior vice president for Government Affairs at the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. 

Joel White, president of Horizon Government Affairs, pointed out that about two-thirds of the world’s supply of opioids are being taken here in the United States.  He spoke about an idea for amassing data on opioids that would enable retail health care providers to help combat the nation’s opioid crisis.  At present, there is no way to tell if one person fills opioid prescriptions in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia over the course of a few hours, pointed out Kaleta, who supports the idea that White articulated. 

View the video here