Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Clinic At Wal-Mart” To Open In Atlanta, Little Rock And Dallas Supercenters

First newly-branded clinics will offer quality medical care with help from local hospital systems

Click here to download the fact sheet

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Feb. 7, 2008 – Wal-Mart today announced that its first co-branded in-store clinics will open in Atlanta, Little Rock and Dallas under “The Clinic at Wal-Mart” brand. These clinics – the first of which is expected to open in April – will be connected to their communities via local hospitals that Wal-Mart’s customers already know and respect.

Today’s announcement is the first step towards opening 400 co-branded convenient clinics by 2010 and further proof of Wal-Mart’s commitment to providing affordable, accessible solutions to America’s healthcare challenges. Wal-Mart expects “The Clinic at Wal-Mart” to become synonymous with quality healthcare at affordable prices, provided by trusted, local providers.

Wal-Mart has signed a letter of intent to work with RediClinic, LLC and local hospital systems to open co-branded walk-in clinics in 200 Wal-Mart Supercenters. Wal-Mart has also signed a letter of intent to partner directly with St. Vincent Health System, a part of the Catholic Healthcare Initiatives system, to open four co-branded clinics in Little Rock.

“We know that America’s healthcare challenges are larger than any one corporation, but we’re committed to doing our part to expand access to quality, affordable healthcare – our commitment to partnering with local hospital systems is evidence,” said Dr. John Agwunobi, Wal-Mart’s senior vice president and president, health and wellness. “Throughout our convenient clinics pilot, customers told us that we are providing a service that benefits their communities. We are confident that our new model of partnership with hospital systems will provide access to quality healthcare services for folks who don’t want to wait in a busy emergency room or can’t get in to see their physician.”

“The Clinic at Wal-Mart, owned and operated by St. Vincent Health System” is expected to open in Little Rock by the end of April, as will “The Clinic at Wal-Mart owned and operated by RediClinic” in association with a local hospital system in Atlanta. By the summer of 2008, Wal-Mart also expects to open co-branded clinics with RediClinic and a local hospital system in Dallas.

“Our vision of the future is to transform healthcare for our community,” said Peter Banko, St. Vincent Health System’s president and chief executive officer. “We work every day towards that vision and the clinics that we will operate in Wal-Mart Supercenters will be a great solution for patients who come to us for health and healing.”

“Wal-Mart Supercenters are a great venue for RediClinic and its healthcare system partners because there are millions of customers in these stores every day who need easier access to the high quality, affordable healthcare that we provide,” said Web Golinkin, chief executive officer of RediClinic, LLC.

The Clinics at Wal-Mart will offer a limited set of affordably-priced Get Well and Stay Well services. Each clinic will operate seven days a week and feature a consistent, innovative design. They will also feature prominent signage in keeping with Wal-Mart’s price transparency promise -- a key aspect that requires operators to post pricing for the services and treatments offered so patients know what their costs will be up front.

With data showing that 55 percent of its in-store clinic patients are uninsured, Wal-Mart is committed to enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of our health care system by working with operators who provide a specific set of services to adults and children over age two, including:
  • Treatment of common ailments such as sore throats, sinus infections, earaches, and bladder infections.
  • Preventive care, including health screenings, medical tests, vaccinations, and basic physical exams.
  • Standard electronic medical records for clinic patients that eliminate the need for paper records via an electronic records platform employed by all new clinics operating in Wal-Mart stores.
  • Patient care delivered by licensed, certified providers who diagnose, treat, and when appropriate, prescribe medications.
To further increase the affordability of their services, The Clinics at Wal-Mart operated by both RediClinic and St. Vincent plan to accept health insurance plans including Aetna, Humana, Blue Cross Blue Shield and others.

For more information on Wal-Mart’s convenient clinic initiative and The Clinics at Wal-Mart, visit

About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT)
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates Wal-Mart discount stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Sam’s Club locations in the United States. The Company operates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom. Wal-Mart serves more than 176 million customers weekly in 14 markets. The Company’s securities are listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol WMT. For more information:

About RediClinic LLC
Since 1989, RediClinic (formerly known as InterFit Health) has provided people with easy access to high-quality, affordable healthcare services. Today the company is the largest independent convenient care operator in the United States, and its RediClinic Services unit is a leading provider of health-related events that are implemented in retail outlets and employer worksites nationwide. For more information, visit

About St. Vincent Health System
St. Vincent Health System, founded in 1888, is one of Arkansas’ leading health systems. It is comprised of four hospitals, a network of primary care clinics, a home health agency and numerous other ventures and entities. St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center, an acute care facility, licensed for 615 beds, located in Little Rock, serves as the hub of the health system. Other St. Vincent hospitals include St. Vincent Doctors Hospital, licensed for 252 beds, in Little Rock; St. Vincent Medical Center/North, licensed for 69 beds, in Sherwood; and St. Anthony’s Medical Center, licensed for 35 beds, in Morrilton. St. Vincent Health System, with more than 2,800 employees and affiliations with more than 650 physicians, is sponsored by Catholic Health Initiatives. Catholic Health Initiatives is a national not-for-profit health care network. For more information, visit

Cleveland Clinic Collaborates With Google to Enhance Patients’ Healthcare Experience

Cleveland Clinic is collaborating with Google to pilot features and services of a new health offering. The Google offering, not yet publicly available, will assist providers to create a new kind of healthcare experience that puts patients in charge of their own health information.

Today, more than 100,000 Cleveland Clinic patients benefit from Cleveland Clinic’s electronic personal health record (PHR) system called eCleveland Clinic MyChart®. The pilot, an invitation-only opportunity offered to a group of Cleveland Clinic PHR users, plans to enroll between 1,500 and 10,000 patients.

It will test secure exchange of patient medical record data such as prescriptions, conditions and allergies between their Cleveland Clinic PHR to a secure Google profile in a live clinical delivery setting. The ultimate goal of this patient-centered and controlled model is to give patients the ability to interact with multiple physicians, healthcare service providers and pharmacies.

"Patients are more proactively managing their own healthcare information," said C. Martin Harris, M.D., Chief Information Officer, Cleveland Clinic. "At Cleveland Clinic, we strive to participate in and help to advance the national dialogue around a more efficient and effective national healthcare system."

"Utilizing Cleveland Clinic’s PHR expertise, this collaboration is intended to help Google test features and services that will ultimately allow all Americans (as patients) to direct the exchange of their medical information between their various providers without compromising their privacy," he added.

The pilot will eventually extend Cleveland Clinic’s online patient services to a broader audience while enabling the portability of patient data so patients can take their data with them wherever they go — even outside the Cleveland Clinic Health System.

"We believe patients should be able to easily access and manage their own health information," said Marissa Mayer, Vice President, Search Products and User Experience, Google. “We chose Cleveland Clinic as one of the first partners to pilot our new health offering because as a provider, they already empower their patients by giving them online tools that help them manage their medical records online and coordinate care with their doctors."

By integrating with the Google platform, Cleveland Clinic is helping create national access to electronic medical records at no cost to the user or provider. The integration between the two systems will help deliver:

* National Access — A more efficient and effective healthcare system driven by a working interoperability model that moves electronic medical records from a closed model to one that is open and connected.

* Consumer Empowerment — A secure patient-centric, consumer-driven tool that will provide each consumer increased control of their medical care, without compromising their privacy. This will empower patients to actively manage their overall health.

* 24/7 Access/Portability — A web portal with 24/7 access, capable of providing the consumer with an opportunity to actively engage in their health care, heightening the importance of quality care and service by providers.

"The partnership with Google is an example of true innovation in health care which brings value to patients and providers," said Delos M. "Toby" Cosgrove, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cleveland Clinic, and member of the Google Health Advisory Council. “As the volume of medical information available to patients increases, it becomes more important for doctors and patients to use this information in a way that empowers the patient to be more collaborative with their care providers."

Doctors demand action on private health insurance

TORONTO, March 12 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian Doctors for Medicare today called on the federal and provincial governments to immediately take all necessary steps to stop the spread of private health insurance for medically necessary services in British Columbia.

"The recent exposé that Acure Health Corp is selling 'Medical Access Insurance' for services already covered under Medicare undermines the public
health care system to the detriment of the vast majority of Canadians, and contravenes the Canada Health Act", said Dr. Danielle Martin, Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.

"It is illegal in British Columbia to sell private duplicate insurance for services already covered by MSP. If it turns out that ACURE has been
collecting illegal insurance premiums, the money should be returned to the consumers," said Dr. Martin.

"It's not ethical to collect illegal payments from unsuspecting patients," said Dr. Bob Woollard, a CDM Board member and head of Family
Medicine at the University of British Columbia. "If it turns out that opted in physicians are unaware that they have been collecting private insurance payments from Acure for MSP insured services, they, too, should return their fees," added Dr Woollard.

"Those who think private health insurance is a panacea for our system should take a look at the Australian experience. The major beneficiaries there have been higher income Australians, private insurance companies, private hospitals and medical specialists - and not the wider Australian community," said Dr. Martin.

In a 2004 study, Leonie Segal of Monash University`s Centre for Health Economics found evidence that Australia's heavily subsidized private system has been "wasteful, inefficient and inequitable". The estimated cost of government policies to support it total more than $2,500 million. Among Segal's findings:

- Private insurance has been largely ineffective and inefficient as a
means of taking pressure off the public system
- Competition for physicians and nurses may make it harder for public
hospitals to meet patient needs
- Where a private system runs alongside a universal public system,
private hospitals have no incentives to provide a full range of
services, thus they can focus on more profitable services

"There is a concerted campaign by the proponents of commercialized care to ignore this type of evidence and try to convince Canadians that private health insurance is the way out of Canada's health care 'challenges'," said Dr. Martin. "The only way to do that is to keep plugging the suggestion that the system is failing, and that it is in 'crisis'. Yet despite its challenges, the evidence shows that a universal single payer system is fairer and more cost-effective than other ystems of providing care, and is massively supported by Canadians."

In its 2006, in its discussion paper "It's About Access", the Canadian Medical Association reviewed all the evidence and found:

- Private insurance for medically necessary physician and hospital services does not improve access to publicly insured services
- Does not lower costs or improve quality of care
- Can increase wait times for those who are not privately insured; and
- Could exacerbate human resource shortages in the public system.

Last year the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a study showing how successful initiatives in team-based care in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario have produced dramatic cuts in waiting times for surgery, which can undoubtedly be emulated across the country.

"This is where the focus should be," said Dr. Martin, "not on trying to decimate our current system, which Canadians are justifiably proud of, so that insurance companies and private hospitals can increase their profits at the expense of average Canadians."

For further information contact:
Dr. Danielle Martin, Board Chair, Canadian Doctors for Medicare, (416) 351-3300

Health insurance company under fire

Calgary firm's policy called queue-jumping

Michelle Lang, Calgary Herald

Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Calgary company selling private medical insurance is at the centre of controversy in British Columbia, where critics claim it encourages patients to circumvent surgical waiting lists.

The government is investigating whether the service is even allowed under provincial law.

Acure Health Corp. offers insurance plans that send patients to a private clinic if they face a wait longer than 45 days in the public health system for a wide range of procedures -- from cataract surgeries to heart operations. The company sells the packages in B.C., Alberta and three other provinces.

The B.C. Ministry of Health said this week it's probing whether the company's services are permitted under the province's Medicare Protection Act, which prohibits most private medical insurance schemes.

The B.C. New Democrats and Alberta-based Friends of Medicare, meanwhile, say the insurance plan amounts to so-called queue-jumping for wealthy patients.

"It's another chink in the armour in terms of protecting public health," said Suzanne Marshall, executive director of Friends of Medicare.

"It's offering those who can afford it an alternative when those needs should be met by the public system."

But officials with Acure Health defended their insurance plan Tuesday, saying it's in compliance with all legislation. They also argued their patients are not queue jumping because the company takes its clients out of the public system for service at private clinics.

"You don't get involved with a program like this without making sure you comply fully with provincial and federal legislation," said Jim Irwin, a vice-president with Acure Health.

"We obey the law of the land."

Legislation in B.C., Alberta and several other provinces prohibits private insurance for medically necessary services. The law may, however, allow patients to buy insurance when the procedure is performed outside of their home province or when their surgeon has left the public health system.

Acure Health said the company ensures it is operating in accordance with legislation by sending patients with claims to private clinics in other jurisdictions for treatment.

Alberta Health officials said Tuesday this practice appears to be in compliance with provincial laws.

"Things that go on outside of Alberta, we have no control over," said Howard May of Alberta Health.

In B.C., however, ministry officials said they have been reviewing the legality of the company's services for months.

Health Minister George Abbott released a statement saying his department is considering referring the matter to the province's Medical Services Commission, which administers the Medicare Protection Act.

"The ministry has recently received legal advice on this matter and government is now considering our options for moving forward to address the potential concerns," Abbott said in the statement.

Acure Health's Irwin is confident the review won't find any problems with the company's services and said there have not been any issues in other provinces where the plan is sold, including Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A simple diagnosis to finally learn….

Mr. Jean-Guy Gaudreault, of the Outaouais region, was the first patient of Health Services International.

For that event, Mrs. Lucie Vermette, president of Health Services International, was determined to herself accompany Mr. Gaudreault to Havana. She even stayed in the same hospital ward, to see for herself the quality of care, the cleanliness and the quality of food service. The hospital was very comfortable, with sunny terraces, lawn chairs, and above all, friendly personnel.

In so doing, Mrs. Vermette watched over the well-being of her client. In Mr. Gaudreault’s free time, they even did some sight-seeing together.

Mr. Gaudreault went to Havana simply for a diagnosis. He had some serious symptoms: recurrent violent headaches and severe digestion problems. But here in Quebec doctors found nothing wrong. He was deeply worried. Both of his sisters had died of cancer and Mr. Gaudreault wanted to know what to expect.

Several Cuban specialists put him through a series of tests and finally found a minor bacterial infection in his stomach.

Mr. Gaudreault returned from Havana reassured about his health condition, with a simple prescription to be filled.

When heard from last, Mr. Gaudreault said that he is relieved to be freed of his headaches and is happy to finally feel in better health.

He does not regret for a moment his brief stay in Cuba and recommends to anyone who has health problems to take steps to regain good health and to be freed from worry.

Source : Health Services International

Master of Health Informatics at the University of Toronto


New Program in 2008*

photoToday’s health care providers have access to more data than ever before. But effectively managing and using that clinical and administrative information has become a major challenge. Health informatics holds the key.

The Master of Health Informatics (MHI) is a newly created professional, graduate-level program. This innovative program provides graduates with the expertise in clinical, information and communication technologies required to lead organizational and health system change.

Innovative and Comprehensive Program

The MHI prepares health informaticians – clinically and technically savvy solution architects who are able to bridge the gap between clinicians, and information and communication technology (ICT) specialists.

Program highlights:

  • 16-month full-time program combines expertise in health systems with applied knowledge in information and communication technologies.
  • Faculty members are national and international experts in health systems and information technology from the Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (HPME) and the Faculty of Information Studies (FIS).
  • A comprehensive, multi-disciplinary curriculum that provides a solid foundation in key Health Informatics competencies including: health and clinical systems and policy; health information processing; information and communication technologies in e-health; measurement, decision analysis, decision support and evaluation; project management; knowledge management and change management.
  • A four-month professional practicum placement, which will provide valuable experiential learning under the supervision and mentorship of leading Health Informaticians within government, health service providers and the private sector.
  • Learning is tailored to individual needs and work experience. Students will participate in lectures, seminars, case studies, computer labs and on-line learning.

Expand Your Career Opportunities

The Master of Health Informatics is ideal for individuals in their early career or those with an established career who wish to expand their role. It will hold particular interest for:

  • Health services providers in all disciplines including nurses, physicians or allied health
  • Business system analysts and computer, information or systems engineering specialists with exposure to health care delivery systems.
  • Private sector managers and consultants with a focus in the health care industry.

* Pending Ontario Council on Graduate Studies (OCGS) approval

Monday, March 10, 2008

What is the Alberta Netcare EHR?

The Alberta Netcare EHR is a secure lifetime record of an Albertan's key health information available for consultation by authorized health service providers. It is not a patient's full health or medical record.

Today, many physicians, pharmacists and other health service providers are recording information about their patients electronically, rather than in paper files. This information may be stored in a local electronic medical record or in a clinical information system. Labs, pharmacies, diagnostic services and community clinics are also capturing and storing information electronically.

Alberta Netcare EHR captures several key data elements from these clinical records for inclusion in a patient's provincial electronic health record. The information elements that are part of the Alberta Netcare EHR include:

  • personal demographic information that helps to uniquely identify each patient
  • prescribed dispensed drugs
  • known allergies and intolerances
  • immunizations
  • laboratory test results
  • diagnostic imaging reports
  • other medical reports

The information available for access by an Alberta Netcare EHR Portal authorized health service provider varies according to the access permissions assigned to that provider.

Alberta Netcare EHR Portal also offers authorized health service providers several decision support tools including:

  • drug-to-drug and drug-to-allergy interaction alerts to avoid prescriptions that conflict
  • a database of all available drugs and their common dosages
  • links to information support such as Clinical Guidelines from the Alberta Medical Association.

Contents of the EHR are maintained and updated in two ways:

  • Primarily, information is automatically accessed and captured from the existing electronic data systems of pharmacies, labs, regional clinics and diagnostic services. This means that this information is not re-keyed or re-entered by anyone, it is gathered from source systems. Our partners in this process include all the health regions and the Alberta Cancer Board.
  • Additionally, some information can be entered directly into a record by an Alberta Netcare authorized health service provider.

Benefits of the Alberta Netcare EHR

a) For Patients

The Alberta Netcare EHR improves the quality and safety of patient care by:

  • Providing more accurate and up-to-date medical information about a patient.
  • Presenting this information immediately at the point of care which reduces delays in treatment, helps to ensure the most appropriate treatment decisions are made, and improves health outcomes.
  • Reducing the possibility of medical error by improving the completeness, accuracy and clarity of medical records accessed at the point of care.
  • Streamlining the secure sharing of health information between health service providers to improve the quality of patient care.
  • Giving authorized health service providers a common understanding of a patient's health condition, preventing unnecessary treatments and adverse events, such as harmful prescription drug interactions.
  • Reducing unnecessary duplication of tests, such as lab work.

b) For Authorized Health Service Providers

The Alberta Netcare EHR provides access to available information at the point of care. It gives health service providers access to key patient information along with online decision support and reference tools. It also helps reduce the possibility of medical errors, assists with compliance issues, and decreases the potential for adverse drug reactions. Features like lab value trends and drug monographs also help with patient consultations.

New program from Saskatchewan Health Quality Council aims to help clinics, specialists improve access to services

International expert to serve as adviser

SASKATOON, March 6 /CNW/ - Lengthy waiting lists, patient no-shows, and frantic workdays could become a thing of the past for health care providers in Saskatchewan, thanks to a new program being offered by the Health Quality Council, in conjunction with an international expert in improving access.

Clinical Practice Redesign (CPR) is a method proven to decrease wait times and missed appointments as well as improve patient/provider satisfaction and efficiency. The approach has been used successfully by some providers in Saskatchewan and other provinces, as well as in the United States. The Health Quality Council is offering CPR School, a hands-on training program for anyone interested in learning the method - clinicians, office managers, and medical assistants.

Catherine Tantau, an internationally recognized authority on access, efficiency, and patient flow through health care systems, is the expert adviser to the program. Ms. Tantau led the creation and implementation of the Clinical Practice Redesign model. She has worked with hundreds of health care organizations in the U.S. and Europe on improving access and efficiency, including the National Health Service of Great Britain and Kaiser Permanente in California.

The Clinical Practice Redesign method applies to any appointment or referral based system. The tools and techniques help practices understand their supply (available appointments) and demand (requests for appointments) and find ways of better matching supply and demand.

"When you have a waiting list that's two or three months long, it might seem like you don't have enough people or appointment slots to meet the demand," says Bonnie Brossart, CEO of Health Quality Council. "Practices are often surprised to discover that they have enough capacity; clinical practice
redesign is about helping providers and office staff understand their system and use their capacity more effectively. It takes some work, but the end result is a more efficient office that allows patients to be seen in a timely manner and providers to spend more time with their patients."

The Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) and the Ministry of Health are supporting this initiative by sponsoring spots in the program for ten physician practices.

CPR School will begin its first training sessions in April 2008. There are a limited number of spots available to interested participants. More information is available on the Health Quality Council web site: or by calling (306)668-8810, ext. 104.

Wait Times in Canada's Provinces

The primary responsibility for the administration and delivery of health care in Canada is at the provincial level. Provinces and territories are actively advancing initiatives to improve wait times through centralized registries and prioritization systems. Several provinces are now posting wait times information electronically. The following are some examples of provincial and territorial initiatives to reduce or improve wait times management.