Practice Notes

What the CVS-Aetna and Walmart-Humana mergers mean for medical group access

by Hamza Hasan and Sarah Hostetter

Late last year, CVS Health announced an acquisition of Aetna. Now, Walmart is eyeing an acquisition of Humana. These potential deals bear a strong resemblance to each other, as they both combine a large retail and pharmacy chain with an insurer. Regardless of whether the deals go through, they mark a change in the health care landscape, with new and varied players entering the field to compete with health systems and medical groups. These new players are making a similar bet: They can give patients better and more convenient access to care than existing channels—and they're putting even more pressure on medical groups to expand their access.

Most medical group executives agree that they have room to improve access, but they may disagree on what that means, especially in light of these new competitors. Groups not only struggle to identify what they should measure access on, but also what success looks like: While there is agreement that "third next available appointment" leaves a lot to be desired, there isn't a lot of information available on what a good substitute would be.

To help address these issues, we launched the Primary Care Access Benchmarking Survey. This survey includes seven metrics that our team has defined as most relevant to medical groups, such as average time to appointment and no-show rate. We're asking both employed and independent groups to report their performance on each metric for the 2017 calendar year across family medicine, internal medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology. We hope this information will give medical group executives the information they need to benchmark their access against similar organizations and identify targets for improvement.

It's not too late to have your data included! If you're interested in participating, please visit the Primary Care Access Benchmarking Survey and submit your data by Monday, June 4, 2018. We will release the results later this summer. If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Sarah Hostetter.

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