Retailers and PCPs: Rocky relationships persist

Retail clinics entered the healthcare marketplace over a decade ago, but physician offices' strategy surrounding them continues to be a work in progress, according to an article from Medscape Today.

To illustrate physicians' varying readiness to work with--rather than against--the clinics, the article cited a 2013 poll by athenahealth, which revealed the following:

  • 17 percent of doctors said they would exchange data with retail clinics
  • 11 percent said they would accept referrals from retail clinics
  • 7 percent said they would direct after-hours care to them
  • 39 percent said they would do all three
  • 26 percent said they would do "none of the above"

When retail clinics first began competing for patients, the article noted, they frequently beat out traditional primary care offices in two key areas: convenience and cost effectiveness. But while many practices have been able to expand office hours to offer night and weekend access to care, they're still at a disadvantage when it comes to price. "Retail clinics can afford to let their healthcare operation be a loss leader," Brandon Betancourt, administrator of Salud Pediatrics in Algonquin, Illinois, told Medscape. "The clinics get people into the store to fill their prescriptions and buy things."

But what Salud lacks in competitive pricing, it strives to make up for in quality--an approach that's taken on even greater significance since some retailers, such as Walgreen, ventured into chronic care management.

Regardless of how practices compete or affiliate with retail clinics, however, they don't appear to disrupt the healthcare marketplace as severely as predicted, the article concluded.

To learn more:
- read the article