In the Aetna/CVS model, delivery of care will be offered through the CVS Minute Clinics, which currently number more than 1,000 nationwide. These clinics resemble an amalgam of urgent care and preventive/primary care, said Gordon Sun, MD, MS, medical director of inpatient services and chief of otolaryngology and ophthalmology at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, Calif, who added that the vision of healthcare delivery outlined by Aetna and CVS is to eventually evolve into offering “wellness” centers that, among other services, will provide core clinical care, including vision and hearing health, as well as pharmacy and medical equipment.
Impact on Otolaryngology
Whether this type of model will be competitive or complementary to the more traditional physician-led or hospital-led model is not known, but Dr. Sun said that specialists will likely see changes to their practices. “Otolaryngology, like many specialties, will likely experience more indirect downstream effects, such as changes in availability and cost of commonly prescribed medications,” he said.
Gavin Setzen, MD, president of the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, also sees potential changes to otolaryngology practices, particularly those practices that offer basic services for common issues such as ear infections, tonsillitis, nose bleeds, and pediatric services. “If these types of services are diverted to Minute Clinics, then you may see a shift in referral patterns that may require realignment of physician practices with better relationships with these kinds of entities,” he said.