CVS Minute Clinic Experience Is Efficient And Effective, But EHR Interoperability Isn't

Neil Versel | | July 21, 2014

Back in February, major pharmacy chains including Walgreen Co., CVS Caremark, Rite Aid, Kroger and Safeway all announced via the White House website — an official channel if there ever was one — that they were endorsing the Blue Button initiative. Blue Button, a protocol developed at the Department of Veterans Affairs and now open to the general public, is an easy, one-click way for people to download health records from provider portals for personal reference or sharing with other providers. The idea is to support consumer access to their own records and promote health information exchange.

From all I can tell, consumers are getting better access to their own health records, thanks to growing demand for such access as well as from Stage 2 of the federal Meaningful Use EHR incentive program, which requires a degree of consumer engagement. Stage 2 is off to a rocky start for sure and consumer demand for health records still seems to be confined to a relative handful of highly engaged patients. Accordingly, health information exchange continues to lag.

I bring this up because I had the occasion to visit a Minute Clinic at a CVS in DeMotte, Ind. (population 3,900), about 65 miles southeast of Chicago, a couple of weeks ago, for an insect bite on my right knee that had become infected while I was on a bicycle tour. With a high-deductible health insurance plan, I’m pretty conscious of costs, so a visit to a hospital emergency department was my last resort. The walk-in clinic was a good option, and I was lucky to find one within 10 miles of where I had stayed the night before...