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Take Care Health Systems, a subsidiary of Walgreens and the nation's largest manager of convenient care clinics and worksite health and wellness centers, today announced that an analysis of de-identified data collected through the company's electronic medical record (EMR) system by the Jefferson School of Population Health showed that the quality of care delivered in Take Care Clinics for treatment of pharyngitis and upper respiratory infections (URI) meets or exceeds the quality of the care delivered in other settings. The results of this analysis were recently published in the American Journal of Medical Quality.
The analysis specifically focused on the treatment of two of the most common acute illness in children: pharyngitis and upper respiratory infections. Treatment of these conditions at Take Care Clinics was measured against National Center for Quality Assurance Health Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) guidelines. These guidelines are used by more than 90 percent of America's health plans to measure performance on care and service.
Researchers found that Take Care Health professionals treating children met HEDIS guidelines in nearly 93 percent of pharyngitis visits and over 88 percent of URI visits. This can be compared to the average rates for guideline adherence in the overarching healthcare community of 74.7 percent for pharyngitis and 83.5 percent for URIs. Researchers also noted that Take Care Health professionals demonstrated a patient-centric focus on quality exhibited by patient follow-up protocols which is rare in standard medical practice. All patients who have a sick visit to a Take Care Clinic receive a follow-up call from a Take Care Health professional within 48 hours of their clinic visit.
Clinical protocol for pharyngitis and URIs specifically note that healthcare professionals should not prescribe or dispense an antibiotic as part of a treatment plan unless clear indications of a bacterial infection are present. The study published in the American Journal of Medical Quality, in conjunction with previously published research, continues to statistically demonstrate that providers at clinics located inside or near retail pharmacies prescribe antibiotics meeting and exceeding national benchmarks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), inappropriate antibiotic use is the primary cause of increases in drug-resistant bacteria, with children having the highest rates of antibiotics use. Increased antibiotic resistance can have numerous costly results on the system, including additional doctor visits, extended hospital stays or the need for more expensive and potentially dangerous medications. The CDC notes that some resistant infections can even cause death.
Data for the quality analysis was collected between Oct. 1, 2006 and Sept. 30, 2008. During this time period Take Care Health Systems opened more than 200 Take Care Clinics across the United States. Company officials credit the proprietary EMR system utilized in Take Care Clinics as being a key enabler of the exceptional and scalable quality scores.
"During a time of rapid growth for Take Care Clinics, we were able to easily and consistently monitor quality metrics on micro and macro levels," says Sandra Festa Ryan, RN, MSN, FAANP, chief nurse practitioner officer for Take Care Health Systems. "Our EMR system allows clinical and training teams to quickly analyze specific provider information as well as company-wide information. Real time trend analysis and rapid identification of best practices across a nationwide network of hundreds of care facilities has always been engrained in our clinical practice."
Previous studies of the retail clinic industry by the RAND Corporation have shown that retail medical clinics located in pharmacies and other stores can provide care for routine illnesses at a lower cost and similar quality as offered in physician offices, urgent care centers or emergency departments.
"At this point in the ongoing evolution of medicine it is imperative that the health care community quickly studies and adopts advances in health care access and treatment in order to confront the significant challenges which stand in the way of a healthier population," says David B. Nash, founding dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health. "Retail clinics like Take Care Health, provide an unprecedented opportunity for health care access and ongoing analysis continues to show tremendous results with regard to quality and cost -- three key factors in improving the way patients access healthcare in the United States."