MINNEAPOLIS -- MinuteClinic, walk-in treatment centers staffed by nurse practitioners and offering treatment for common ailments like strep throat and ear infections, has opened eight new locations in Target stores in the Baltimore market.
The new Maryland clinics, located in Aberdeen, Towson, Bel Air, Pikesville, Cockeysville, Laurel, Ellicott City and Glen Burnie, are being opened in addition to three new locations in Target stores in St. Paul, Blaine and Edina, in the Minneapolis area. "MinuteClinic found a fundamentally better way to diagnose common illnesses and provide the right remedy, quickly and conveniently," said Linda Hall Whitman, chief executive officer of MinuteClinic, in a statement. "We launched our services in Minneapolis-St. Paul and have selected Baltimore, a highly regarded market for medical care, as the next city in our national expansion."
The clinics are located throughout the Minneapolis area in Target, Cub Foods, Midway and Best Buy. These eight new locations mark the first move to Baltimore for the company. The centers opened in the Towson, Cockeysville and Pikesville stores last month, with the remaining openings continuing through September.
"We've had lots of constituencies who have embraced this. The broker community has embraced this. The health insurance community has embraced it. Employers have embraced it. Even the doctors are embracing it," said Tom Charland, spokesman for MinuteClinic. Target executives did not respond to calls for comment.
MinuteClinic treats patients for strep throat, pink eye, ear and sinus infections, bronchitis and mononucleosis. Ailments like poison ivy, ringworm, bladder infections and allergies can be dealt with as well. The clinics also offer vaccines for tetanus/diphtheria, pneumonia, flu and hepatitis B.
Patients at a MinuteClinic do not need an appointment, and typically do not have to wait more than 15 minutes to see a nurse practitioner, said Charland. The nurse practitioner, who must hold a master's degree, diagnoses the patient using a software program that guides diagnosis, treatment and billing.
"They have one person that they talk to for the entire time. There's not somebody they register with, somebody who escorts them into the room, somebody who comes in and takes their blood pressure, somebody who comes in and swabs their throat, and then somebody who comes in and writes them a prescription. It's all just one person," said Charland.
At the conclusion of the visit, educational material is provided, an invoice is printed, and a prescription is faxed to the patient's primary care physician. Patients can take their prescription to the pharmacy of their choice, and MinuteClinic is not connected to the in-store pharmacy at Target or Cub Stores. Beyond paying rent and acting as their tenant, MinuteClinic has no partnership with the stores it is located in, said Charland.
Patients typically shop in the stores after their visits to the clinic, however. More than 50% of patients then make a purchase in the store, said Charland. As a result, many retailers are interested in the program, he said.
The clinics are considered in-network with a number of insurance companies, including CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield's PAR and PPO networks, Luminos, NCAS (National Claims Administrative Services) and Definity. Therefore, patients are responsible for an office visit co-pay. For those without insurance, the average cost is $44.
According to a statement released by MinuteClinic, the centers have treated more than 150,000 patients and saved self-insured employers and health insurance companies more than $12 million since they opened the first clinic in a Cub Foods store in May 2000. By the end of 2005, MinuteClinic has plans to expand to four more metropolitan areas, said Charland.
"It's a concept where the timing is very good, and the reception is definitely beyond what we ever dreamed of," said Charland.