Retail Weds Healthcare: An improved Scope for Remote Treatment?
A recent article published on MedCityNews.com has brought forth a new development that is very significant from the standpoint of consumer-driven healthcare. Minneapolis based retailing giant, Target Corporation, is joining hands with Kaiser Permanente, a leading healthcare provider based in California. They are set to open four in-store Target Clinics in Southern California, a move that can be viewed as a new step toward the fusion of retail and healthcare industries.
Three clinics have already been opened at Target stores in Vista, San Diego, and Fontana, and a fourth clinic is about to open in West Fullerton. All of these clinics will have nurses and practitioners from Kaiser Permanente.
While it’s not entirely new for Target to maintain in-store clinics, which they have been doing for almost a decade at a number of stores, this new venture will allow them to offer a wider range of healthcare services than they had previously offered in retail outlets. According to John Holcomb, vice president of healthcare for Target, the new offering will include a wide range of services such as telemedicine consultations, prescription reviews, pediatric primary care visits, OB-GYN services, vaccinations and flu shots, pediatric and adolescent care, and management of chronic illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure.
He pointed out that a key element of the collaboration is telemedicine, which combines Kaiser’s IT infrastructure with Target. This, he hoped, would cut the “dead ends” existing in the retail healthcare environment and broaden the scope of care available.
What might ensure the partnership is an exchange of data between the healthcare and the retail giant that could lead to a better understanding of patients through an improved vision of health IT and interoperability. Holcomb said, “For the Kaiser member, from an IT perspective, we’re also able to integrate their records into Target. This is going to help us learn…I think that’s going to help the industry evolve.” He also explained that any access to patient information will be for the sole purpose of providing healthcare. Patient data will not be shared between the retail side and the healthcare side.
In Kaiser’s case, partnering with the retail leader “is the evolution of expanding” its services “into a setting that will provide patients with wellness support,” said Paul Minardi, medical director of business management.