(Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 12--Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. doctors and Walgreen Co. will work together in providing health care at 11 drugstore clinics in Greater Memphis, officials announced Wednesday.
Baptist Medical Group, the Memphis-based health care system's physician group, will provide medical oversight and advice to the staff at the clinics, mainly nurse practitioners, with a new multiyear contract, said Jason Little, Baptist's chief operating officer.
Walgreen and Baptist will both put their brands on the clinics, turning potential competitors into allies. Walgreens clinic customers without primary care physicians will be offered a choice of selecting a Baptist Medical Group doctor for follow-up care and a "medical home." Busy BMG physicians will be able to refer their patients to a Walgreens clinic to be seen. An electronic medical records system now rolling out at Baptist will allow Walgreen staff and Baptist to coordinate appointments, referrals and care for Baptist patients.
"I think that's the real advantage of this, is really to marry these marketplace clinics who are easy access and convenient access points with a health system that can provide all of that downstream care to provide true population health for our community," said Robert Vest, chief operating officer for Baptist Medical Group.
An expected wave of new patients who obtain health coverage through the Affordable Care Act are one factor leading to the new "clinical collaboration" between the regional health care system and the Deerfield, Ill.-based chain. Across the health care industry, such teamwork is being looked at to improve care and lower costs.
"Different responsible ways to provide access and a continuum of care I think is our responsibility as health care professionals and we think that this partnership promotes that and advances that in our community," Vest said.
The collaboration is an opportunity to increase access for patients and coordinate care in a better way, Little said.
"It's an integration of what we feel like are two powerful brands in the community that people trust with their health care, " Little said.
The "clinical collaboration" is not new for Walgreen, which, for example, announced a similar agreement in August in Florida with Orlando Health.
The agreement linking Baptist and all of Walgreens' clinics in Shelby, Tipton an DeSoto counties is exclusive, Little said.
At Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Baptist's chief competitor among the Memphis-based nonprofit hospital systems, executive vice president Donna Abney said Methodist's philosophy supported by research is that "medical homes" with treatment provided by physicians and providers who know patients' history, health goals and needs are best.
"At Methodist we support the partnership among patients, families and providers that a medical home provides, both in private practice or aligned physician groups," Abney said in a statement.
Zach Chandler, Baptist's vice president of the Memphis market, said studies show that as many as 80 percent of patients who use a health care clinic don't have a primary care physician.
Vest said that Walgreen's clinic customers who have a primary care physician, Baptist or not, will be referred to that physician for follow-up care. Little said that the Walgreens connection provides another point of access in a continuum of care including Baptist's minor medical centers.
Little said the new partnership with the 11 Walgreens clinics will begin in June.
Corner health care
Baptist Memorial Health Care physicians and Walgreen Co. will team up to guide health care for customers in clinics at 11 Walgreen drugstores in Greater Memphis.
Here are the Walgreens clinics involved in the new service:
4154 Elvis Presley
3177 S. Perkins
Bartlett: 6697 Stage
Cordova: 8046 Macon
Horn Lake: 1501 Goodman
Munford: 43 Tabb
Olive Branch: 6958 Goodman
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