New Modes of Health Care Delivery

Cophec Community Physician Health Clinics work with other healthcare providers to evaluate potential opportunities to partner in providing new modes of healthcare delivery.  Among these new approaches to healthcare delivery are Retail Clinics, Patient Centered Health Homes and Urgent Care centers.  Cophec believes that Community Physician Health Clinics can contribute significantly to improvements in healthcare by being a collaborative partner in these new modes of health care delivery.

Patient Centered Health Home
In 1963 various medical societies started developing a new concept for providing healthcare called the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH). The PCMH approach provides comprehensive primary care for children, youth and adults in healthcare settings that facilitate partnerships between individual patients, their personal clinicians, the patient’s family and other participants in the healthcare delivery process. PCMH practices have a whole person orientation by providing integrated and coordinated care with quality and safety being its hallmarks. Enhanced access is made possible by system advances and new communication options.

Urgent care
The initial urgent care centers opened in the 1970s. Since then this sector of the health care industry has rapidly expanded to an approximately 10,000 centers. Many of these centers have been started by emergency room physicians who have responded to the public need for convenient access to unscheduled medical care. Much of the growth of these centers has been fueled by the significant savings that urgent care centers provide over the care in a hospital emergency department. Many managed care organizations (MCOs) now encourage their customers to utilize the urgent care option. Urgent Care centers provide ambulatory care in a facility dedicated to the delivery of medical care outside of a hospital emergency department, usually on an unscheduled, walk-in basis. Urgent care centers are primarily used to treat patients who have an injury or illness that requires immediate care but is not serious enough to warrant a visit to an emergency room.

Retail Clinics
The first retail clinics appeared in 2000. Since then various factors, including the growth of the Internet, high-speed telecommunications networks and electronic medical records, have made it possible for patients to seek care in a variety of health provider settings without losing the continuity of care a primary care provider offers. Health care entrepreneurs using these technologies in retail clinics are making health care increasingly accessible and convenient, while raising the potential for improving quality and reducing costs.

Retail Clinics offer a potential solution to the shortage of physicians in some areas and in some cases an alternative to the costly care available in hospital emergency rooms. These retail clinics are typically small health care centers located inside chain pharmacies and big-box retailers. They are staffed by nurse practitioners and offer a limited scope of services. According to various independent studies, the number of retail clinics is likely to grow to more than 4,000 by 2015.