Kroger's Little Clinic to collaborate with UC Health on patient care
Courtesy UC Health
UC Health and Kroger's The Little Clinic announced a new partnership on Tuesday.
“Kroger is an iconic company deeply rooted in Cincinnati, and we look at the association with The Little Clinic as a tremendous opportunity,” saidJim Kingsbury, president and CEO of UC Health, which is affiliated with theUniversity of Cincinnati.UC Health announced Tuesday that it will expand its brand – and perhaps its patient base – through a collaborative agreement with The Little Clinic medical centers inside 18 Kroger grocery stores throughout Greater Cincinnati.
If a patient agrees and signs a waiver, The Little Clinic and UC Health will exchange medical records. That is expected to enhance the level of care that patients of UC Health will be able to receive at The Little Clinic, which accepts most health insurance plans.
In addition, doctors at UC Health will be able to provide advice to the nurse practitioners and physician assistants who diagnose and treat patients at The Little Clinic. And people who go to The Little Clinic for medical care could be referred to primary care doctors or specialists at UC Health.
The clinics are open every day and evening, and no appointment is necessary. Availability to health care inside Kroger stores on evenings and weekends is expected to help reduce visits to the emergency room by patients, according to UC Health, which includes the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, West Chester Hospital and University of Cincinnati Physicians (more than 700 board-certified clinicians and surgeons).
“This collaboration allows patients greater access to health care close to home and work,” said Dr. Ken Patric, chief medical officer for The Little Clinic. “One of our goals is to provide convenient monitoring for those who struggle with chronic care management such as diabetes. Offering a convenient place for routine examinations and supervision of such conditions will enhance compliance and improve outcomes.”
No financial consideration was paid by either company, I was told by Jennifer Martin, a spokeswoman for The Little Clinic.
The Little Clinics in Kroger stores in Northern Kentucky won’t be part of the collaboration because of differing state regulations, Martin said. The Little Clinic has 107 locations inside Kroger stores in Ohio Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia; King Soopers in Colorado; and Fry’s Food Stores in Arizona.
“We hope the relationship with the Little Clinic grows beyond the ... locations currently in Cincinnati and Dayton,” said Peter Iacobell, UC Health’s vice president of strategic planning and development. “Both organizations are working closely together, and we’re not going to disclose any financial arrangements. ...
“The Little Clinic is a great partner, and we believe we are positioned to assist them in providing great care to their patients,” Iacobell said. “We’re just beginning to explore and understand the true potential of this relationship.”
Developing relationships that improve access to specialized health care throughout the region and nationally is one of UC Health’s strategic initiatives, Kingsbury said.
“We believe this relationship will place both organizations on the forefront of a new care delivery model,” said Dr. Myles Pensak, CEO of University of Cincinnati Physicians. “Health care is evolving, and so is UC Health.”
The collaboration won’t involve creating new jobs or replacing staff at The Little Clinic locations in Greater Cincinnati, Martin told me.
Those nurse practitioners and physician assistants at the local clinics diagnose and treat minor injuries and illnesses, including cuts, allergies, colds, sore throat, ear and sinus infections. They can prescribe medications, conduct tests and interpret laboratory results, provide wellness and preventive care, perform physical examinations and health screenings, and administer vaccinations and injections to adults and children 18 months or older.
A wholly owned subsidiary of Kroger, The Little Clinic has its corporate office in Nashville, Tenn. CEO Mike Stoll spent 34 years with Cincinnati-based Kroger, most recently as Kroger’s vice president of corporate benefits. The first Little Clinic opened in a Kroger store in Louisville in 2003, and Kroger bought the company in 2010.