Can't beat 'em? Join 'em with your own walk-in clinic

doctor time efficiency
Physician practices are opening their own walk-in clinics to compete with retail and urgent care centers.

Tired of seeing patients going to competitors who offered walk-in care, a group of primary care doctors in Pennsylvania opened their own clinic.

Mark Puffenberger, M.D., and his partners at the Intermountain Medical Group opened the walk-in clinic at their Shavertown location about 18 months ago to better serve their patients, according to Medical Economics.

Their group is the first of the 22 primary care sites that are part of the Intermountain Healthcare system to have opened a walk-in clinic to compete with retail clinics such as those at Walmart, Sam’s Club and CVS, as well as the Geisenger Health System, a competitor to the Intermountain system, which opened an urgent care center.

Retail healthcare has continued to expand. The majority of consumers using those services have their own primary care physician but are attracted to walk-in clinics for their speed and convenience. Expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act and a concomitant shortage of new physicians are additional drivers of the expansion in the number of retail healthcare outlets.

Intermountain isn’t alone in competing with retail and urgent care centers. Opening a walk-in clinic allows patients access to care they need quickly and ensures they don’t have to wait long periods when they come to the office, said practice administrator Kathy Severa, of Family Medicine Associates in Lawrence, Kansas, which opened a clinic about 10 years ago.

RELATED: Medical practice creates 'bump list' to get sick patients in to see a doctor

A clinic can also reduce stress levels, as doctors and other practitioners don’t have to scramble to try to squeeze in sick patients who need to get in to see a doctor that day, said Severa.