Retail clinics level playing field in healthcare system

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — The emergence of the reports by Kalorama Information and Rasmussen Reports are important because they underscore the important role that retail-based healthcare clinics — and the nurse practitioners who work within them — increasingly play in the nation's healthcare system.

(THE NEWS: Kalorama projects retail clinic growth. For the full story, click here)

(THE NEWS: Most U.S. voters believe an expanded role for nurse practitioners will boost quality of health care. For the full story, click here)

As reported, independent healthcare market research firm Kalorama Information expected retail-based health clinics to continue to grow and to become a durable part of the healthcare system. Kalorama Information was certain to note that the growth comes despite such hurdles as a fragile economy and some state regulatory hurdles, at the behest of physician lobbies.

Furthermore, the findings of a new Rasmussen Reports survey found that most U.S. voters believed that the quality of health care would improve if routine care was handled by nurse practitioners and physicians then were able to focus on more challenging healthcare issues. Many survey respondents were in favor of training and licensing nurse practitioners to expand the level of care they provide.

These findings come as 2011 marks the beginning of the second wave of clinic expansion.

New healthcare legislation that will afford some 30 million uninsured people health insurance — coupled with the aging U.S. population and a shortage of primary care physicians — will benefit the convenient care industry and undoubtedly drive industry growth.

Not only are health systems all across the country becoming more engaged, but also clinic operators are gearing up the wave of expansion. For example, MinuteClinic plans to open more clinics at a rate of about 100 clinics per year, beginning this year. By 2015, MinuteClinic estimated it will operate about 1,060 clinics in 100 markets.

In December 2010, RedlClinic announced plans open 20 new clinics in H-E-B stores across Texas, nearly doubling the number of clinics operating within select H-E-B locations.

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