Find Out What This New Trend Means for Patients Like You
Some big changes are taking place in the healthcare industry. More patients are placing a higher value on convenience, choosing their local urgent care clinic over a primary care physician. In fact, visits to a primary care physician dropped 18% from 2012 to 2016, and more urgent care clinics are popping up all over the county. Many people can go to their local urgent care clinic for the same price as their PCP, and urgent care clinics are usually open much later than a normal doctor’s office, giving people more flexibility when it comes to finding treatment. But this trend is also leading to another surprising development, some major corporations like Walmart and CVS are trying to cash in on the urgent care clinic craze.
The Rise of the Urgent Care Clinic
Most people have a rigid work schedule and their PCP’s office might only be open from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. So, scheduling an appointment with their PCP can mean taking time off work. More people are going to their local urgent care clinic for fast care at night or on the weekends. Other people simply aren’t willing to wait for an opening at their PCP and would rather get the care they need now by going to an urgent care clinic. These clinics are popping up in convenient locations like strip malls and other high-traffic areas, which is putting PCPs on edge about their future.
Yet, many healthcare professionals are seeing the quality of care in the industry suffer as a result of this trend. Many urgent care clinics are giving patients the wrong prescriptions because the employees might not have the time or expertise to understand a patient’s needs.
How Corporate Mergers Will Affect the Marketplace
With urgent care clinics becoming more popular, both CVS and Walmart are looking to break in. Both companies already offer pharmacy services, so it’s not a surprise that they’re trying to offer more healthcare services. Walmart is merging with the insurer Humana, a company that provides private Medicare plans, while CVS Health is partnering with Aetna, one of the largest insurance companies in the U.S. Both companies are looking to offer onsite urgent care services in addition to their pharmacy services, creating what they hope will become a one-stop shop for medical care.
When a patient gets treatment at one of these corporate urgent care clinics, there’s a good chance that they’ll be directed to the store’s pharmacy, simplifying the process to patients because they no longer need to make multiple stops.
What This Means for Patients
Patients may be lured into one of these new urgent care clinics for the sake of convenience, but it may affect the quality of the care they receive. Some of these facilities may have an incentive to prescribe patients medications they don’t need in order to secure more business for their pharmacy.
Patients should still make an effort to schedule an appointment with their PCP whenever possible and only use urgent care clinics for emergencies. A PCP will be more familiar with the patient and their health history, ensuring access to higher quality of care.
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