Retail Clinic Partnerships Can Expand Access to Care, Improve Patient Outcomes

October 19th 2015
Contemporary Clinic Editorial Staff
Contemporary Clinic Editorial Staff

As a complement to primary care services, retail clinics play a critical role in the continuity of care for many Americans.

Retail Clinic Partnerships: The Value Proposition for Hospitals and Health Systems

Since disrupting the health care delivery system nearly 15 years ago by expanding access to high-quality and affordable health care in convenient settings, the retail health industry has been on the cutting edge of innovation in health care delivery across the nation.

According to a new report released by theConvenient Care Association(CCA), retail health will continue to be at the forefront of the health care revolution through partnerships with hospitals and health systems. There are currently more than 100 hospital and health systems affiliated with retail clinics and these partnerships positively impact care by expanding access and the services provided, in addition to improving the quality and continuity of health care.

One of the defining aspects of retail clinics is that they expand access to affordable and convenient high-quality basic primary care. The report highlights several ways that through partnerships with hospitals and health systems, retail clinics can further expand the health system’s footprint and expand accessibility and services to patients.

Retail clinics work with hospitals and health systems to offer after-hours care that traditionally would have only been available in crowded emergency departments, leading to significant cost savings for both patients and health systems. Partnerships also expand access to care and services through the use of telehealth technologies that are already successfully employed in many retail settings to connect patients with specialty services at hospitals and health systems that may not be readily available to them.

Research shows that over 30% of the population lives within a 10-minute drive of a retail clinic. The partnership opportunities between retail clinics and health systems underscore the value proposition of retail clinics as they grow to accommodate the healthcare needs of patients, especially those in areas where retail clinics may be a patient’s most accessible healthcare delivery option.

“The retail health industry has been a leader in the transformation of healthcare delivery across the nation, and for many patients, it’s their first point-of-entry to receiving care,” said Tine Hansen-Turton, executive director of the Convenient Care Association and editor-in-chief ofContemporary Clinic, the official journal of the Convenient Care Association. “With that in mind, the partnerships between retail clinics and hospitals and health systems promote access to and coordination of high-quality healthcare, thereby increasing patient outcomes, which is a primary driver of the retail health industry.”

As a complement to primary care services, retail clinics play a critical role in the continuity of care for many. The report emphasizes how collaboration between retail clinics and health systems can allow for the integration of electronic health records, enabling providers to have access to a patient’s medical history and records.

Through this access and integration, retail clinics can play an expanded role in chronic disease management and assist those patients without an established primary care provider connect with a medical home through referrals to affiliated groups.

“Retail clinics are part of the healthcare ecosystem, not separate from it,” the report says. “The growing number of partnerships with hospitals and health systems evidences their increasingly important role in the healthcare continuum.

For access to the report in its entirety, clickhere.

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