Digital Tool Allows Patients to Hold Place in Line for MinuteClinic

June 2nd 2016
Katie Eder, Director of Content
Katie Eder, Director of Content

A new digital tool allows patients to view wait times at most MinuteClinic locations and hold a place in line through their mobile device.

A new digital tool allows patients to view wait times at most MinuteClinic locations and hold a place in line through their mobile device.

“We know patients are demanding added convenience as they interact with the health care system. The option to hold a place in line gives patients more choices and flexibility and will allow for prompt care when arriving at our clinics,” stated Andrew Sussman, MD, president of CVS MinuteClinic and executive vice president and associate chief medical officer of CVS Health. “We think of it as the ‘cure for the common wait’.”

Patients start by using their smartphone, computer, or tablet to view current wait times at the MinuteClinic they’d like to visit. Then, they enter the reason for the visit and provide an e-mail address or phone number to receive a confirmation code and reminder messages.

The digital tool provides patients with an estimated time to arrive, and once they’re at the selected clinic, they sign in at the kiosk and enter their unique confirmation code. Then, they’re ready to be seen as soon as the practitioner is available based on the order in which their confirmation was received.

Currently, the tool is only available to patients visiting MinuteClinic locations inside CVS pharmacy stores and Longs Drugs in Hawaii, but it’s set to be expanded toTarget-based clinicslater this year.

Dr. Sussman said increasing patient demand is the impetus for adding new services like this.

“We’ve worked closely with our collaborating physicians, health-system affiliates, and our practitioner team to develop a consistent and thoughtful approach to expand and introduce new services that are within the scope of practice of our nurse practitioners and physician assistants,” he stated. “…Having seen more than 30 million visits in 16 years, we hope to continue to bring innovations and convenience to the way health care is delivered today.”

In another move to reduce wait times, MinuteClinicrecently partneredwith the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Palo Alto Health Care System to expand access to convenient health care services for veterans in Northern California. Through the first-of-its-kind initiative, more than 65,000 veterans enrolled in the Palo Alto VA health system can now be referred to 1 of 14 MinuteClinic locations in both the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento for acute health services.

This collaboration comes amid struggles with long wait times for veterans nationwide who are in need of urgent care,Kaiser Health Newsreported. The Palo Alto VA fares better than others in providing timely care, but its 3 inpatient facilities were so hectic in the past year that roughly 11% of appointments system-wide—including those requiring urgent care—were scheduled more than a month out, according to VA data.

The system’s deputy chief of staff Stephen Ezeji-Okoye, MD, toldKaiser Health Newsthat he expects 10 to 15 of the estimated 150 veterans who call the Palo Alto VA’s Nurse Helpline (1-800-445-0057) daily will be treated at participating MinuteClinics on any given day.

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