Convenient care drives new healthcare partnerships

The rise of "convenient care" within the hospital sector is driving a wave of partnerships, including joint ventures, non-exclusive arrangements and telehealth alliances, according to a post at the NEJM Catalyst blog.

Convenient care is an umbrella term that encompasses numerous features of care, including short wait times, low out-of-pocket costs for low-acuity conditions such as bronchitis, and extended hours, write Pushpa Raja, M.D., of the Greater Los Angeles Department of Veterans Affairs, and Ateev Mehrotra, M.D., of Harvard Medical School.

The desire for such care among urban, higher-income, younger and healthier demographics has given rise to providers such as retail clinics, urgent care centers and telehealth kiosks. While larger or more traditional healthcare providers want to take advantage of convenient care's popularity, they often lack the infrastructure for it, leading to partnerships with those that do, according to the authors.

Such partnerships can take numerous forms, including:

  • Non-exclusive agreements: Institutions outside the healthcare sector, such as CVS, have been popular choices for convenient-care partnerships due to their built-in customer base and relatively low financial risk for health systems, according to the post.
  • Joint ventures: Under these arrangements, every partner has a stake, appealing to healthcare providers who are willing to make a bigger capital investment in exchange for more ownership and equal representation on boards of directors. "As with any joint venture, however, success requires navigating the differing management styles, cultures and goals of each side," write Raja and Mehrotra.
  • Leased-space arrangements: In these partnerships, health systems operate convenient-care clinics themselves, but within a retail space. The drawback of such an arrangement is that, again, health systems often lack the infrastructure to operate such a clinic; for example, more than half of hospital-operated clinics within Walmart locations have since closed.
  • Telemedicine partnerships: These can take several forms, such as healthcare providers paying a fee for provide services and technology in exchange for branding and referrals.

To learn more:
- read the commentary