Retail Clinics Shift Away From Only Treating Minor Acute Illnesses

October 12th 2016
Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor
Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor

Nurse practitioners express a desire to move from treating minor maladies to managing chronic disease.

Retail clinics will begin to shift from treating minor acute illnesses to managing chronic diseases and delivering primary care, according to a report onMedCity News.

This evolution was spoken about at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners’ Specialty & Leadership Conference by nurse practitioners (NPs) in executive roles at 3 of the largest retailers in the nation.

Sue Ferbert, a chief NP for the Walgreen Healthcare Clinics, stated that more than a decade ago, before retail clinics became mainstream, NPs had to continually explain who and what they were.

“Retail clinics have put the profession of nurse practitioner on the map,” Ferber said in theMedCityNewsreport.

However, as retail clinics began to gain popularity, they were met with opposition from physicians, who would picket outside stores and took out full-page ads in newspapers railing against convenient care providers, according toMedCity.

To overcome this hurdle, retail clinics began to limit the scope of their services, which worked, but ended up creating a barrier that is constantly being pushed back against by NPs and physician assistants in the clinics, the report noted.

Moving away from minor maladies, including flu shots and sore throats, will require shifting from just acute episodic care to treating patients holistically, Angela Patterson, chief NP officer for CVS Health Minute Clinics, toldMedCity. This shift would also allow NPs to serve as a safety net for primary care in providing screening, monitoring, and initiating treatment for chronic disease.

Patterson stressed in the report the difference between scope of practice and scope of services. Furthermore, NPs working in retail clinics must make better use of technological advances so they can avoid working in isolation at their facility.

MedCityreported that a major challenge in retail clinics, according to panelists, was recruiting and retaining experienced staff member, which Nancy Zaner, chief NP officer for Walmart Care Clinics, does not see going away.

Zaner reiterated the necessity of developing the workforce pipeline, but that “the bulk of our work has to be spent on retention,” she said in the report.

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