Patients responding to enriched healthcare experience of clinics, further underscoring tipping point

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — With the growth of consumer-driven care and more of the burden of managing costs falling on patients’ shoulders, there’s no doubt that patients are responding to the convenient, cost-effective health care provided by retail health clinics. Further evidence of this is the recent results of the Harris Interactive poll.

(THE NEWS: Survey: Clinics provide enriched healthcare experience, help shape patient satisfaction. For the full story, click here)

The survey shows that the convenient care model holds strong appeal for patients across several treatment categories, including flu shots, flu-like symptoms and cholesterol or blood pressure testing.

It’s important to note that the survey also found that roughly one-fourth would be likely to go to such a facility for a regular check-up regarding a chronic condition and one-third or more would be likely to go for all other tested treatments. The survey results come as the convenient care industry hits a tipping point in 2012.

As previously reported by Drug Store News, Massachusetts lawmakers just passed a massive healthcare bill that brings expanded scope of services, in such areas as monitoring of chronic diseases and prevention and wellness offerings, to patients of limited-service clinics — marking not only a significant milestone for the state’s healthcare system but also for the convenient care industry at large.

Furthermore, South Carolina is now allowing retail-based health clinics to enroll as providers in Medicaid, a move that enables Medicaid patients to use clinics for wellness visits, preventive services and treatment of acute ailments.

Then in late July, the Los Angeles Times published an article stating that retail-based health clinics are likely to see an influx of patients turning to them for healthcare services as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will extend health insurance to some 30 million Americans amid an already fragile primary care network. The article stated that this will be especially true in California, as nearly 3-out-of-4 California counties already lack a sufficient number of family physicians.

California state senator Ed Hernandez, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said that California must take numerous steps to address this issue and that the state is considering legislation that would expand the scope of practice for nurse practitioners so they can treat more patients directly with limited physician oversight, the Los Angeles Times reported.

These are just a few of the more recent developments within the convenient care industry but the point is this: Clearly, retail health clinics are an important player in today’s U.S. healthcare system and the nurse practitioners and physician assistants working within the clinics are on the front lines working each day to expand access to affordable, high-quality care.

What is your take on these recent developments and how do you envision the evolution of the convenient care industry in the coming years?

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