Using most available measures, there are three Pharmacy chains that matter, 2 of them closer to pure plays in the sector. Walgreen’s is the largest, CVS is not far behind, and of course, Wal-Mart. CVS is the one making the most noise and expansion of technology with Telemedicine availability inside their Minute Clinic locations. The latest is the famous Cleveland Clinic coming on board in Ohio. When a patient enters a Minute Clinic, a Nurse Practitioner evaluates the situation and if they need further consultation, the links become active in a few minutes at an additional cost of $50 over the office visit (Katie Dvorak, 2016b, para. 2–3) Locally in Charlotte, 27 locations in the Metro, which include Target stores. All but two stores in the area have an affiliation with Carolinas Healthcare System, the dominant system in our area. The partnership locally has been active for five years, but no sign of telehealth that can be found or promoted.
According to a report from the Center for American Progress, telehealth is “high quality and cost saving” which grinds to a halt such progress is arcane state laws and licensing requirements. Only New York and the Capitol Region of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC allow reciprocity (Katie Dvorak, 2016a, para. 2–3). The mind is boggled when living on the border of two or more states that each doctor has to stay on their side. Not enlightened in the least. Then there is the matter of paying for all of this. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the extra fee may be a showstopper for most, even with insurance. Seems to be agreement on the merits; most aspects encounter bumps early in the product/service cycle and this is no exception. As with most facets of healthcare, geography plays an out sized role in quality of care and coverages available to their populations. As of February 2016, 29 states and the District of Columbia have laws for private payer policies for telehealth, and 23 states have parity laws that require insurers to cover telehealth services at the same rates as in-person services (Zeke Emanuel, Joshua Sharfstein, Topher Spiro, & Meghan O’Toole, 2016, pp. 40–41).
Katie Dvorak. (2016a, April 13). CAP: Telemedicine licensure, reimbursement issues states must address. Retrieved April 14, 2016, from http://www.fiercehealthit.com/story/cap-telemedicine-licensure-reimbursement-issues-states-must-address/2016-04-13
Katie Dvorak. (2016b, April 13). Cleveland Clinic to work with CVS on MinuteClinic telemed services. Retrieved April 14, 2016, from http://www.fiercehealthit.com/story/cleveland-clinic-work-cvs-minuteclinic-telemed-services/2016-04-13
Zeke Emanuel, Joshua Sharfstein, Topher Spiro, & Meghan O’Toole. (2016, April). State Options to Control Health Care Costs and Improve Quality. Center for American Progress. Retrieved from https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/07050836/CostContainment-report.pdf