Retail clinics prepare for more patients under reform

Assuming that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will go into full effect, retail health clinics are getting ready for growing demand, KJZZ reported. For instance, retail clinics in Northern Arizona are expecting a major influx of patients now that the individual mandate has been ruled constitutional.

To cope with the oncoming "pent-up demand," such clinics are supporting Medicaid expansion. For example, North Country Health Center largely depends on Medicaid funds, and without expansion, it may struggle to maintain adequate staffing and operations, noted KJZZ.

Meanwhile, CVS MinuteClinic acknowledged that regardless of the reform ruling, the industry doesn't have enough primary care physicians to meet urgent medical needs. Retail clinics are well-positioned to fill those gaps, Andrew Sussman, M.D., president of MinuteClinic and senior vice president and associate chief medical officer of CVS Caremark, told FierceHealthcare in an interview last month.

Higher volumes expected from the reform ruling also are driving the growth of urgent care centers as an alternative to the emergency room, with about 9,000 in operation and 300 more opening each year. Unlike retail clinics, urgent care centers have a physician on the premises at all times and have the ability to diagnose and treat more serious non-emergency illnesses and injuries with X-ray and lab equipment on site, the FiercePracticeManagement previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the KJZZ report