In her latest article in Physicians Practice Magazine, Judy Capko brings a refreshing sanity to the issue of how medical practices can respond to walk-in clinics. Although her focus is retail clinics, most of what she says would apply equally well to urgent care centers.
She seems to be aware that the disdain that many physicians look on urgent care causes them to ignore them and miss out on the synergies. She recommends that medical practices take several steps to explore these synergies:
- First, investigate and come to understand the types of care that the urgent care provides. If the center only treats episodic illnesses and injuries, maybe they will be open to refer patients to you for ongoing care of long-term problems. Of course, this is true for most centers, and the medical practices that nurture the relationships with the urgent care physicians will likely receive the lion’s share of referrals.
- Since many providers in retail clinics and urgent care centers are physician assistants and nurse practitioners, she suggests that specialists “meet these providers and talk about being available for consult, if they have questions when treating a patient that presents with unusual symptoms.”
- On the flip side, treatment of workers compensation injuries has its own complexities, and many practices do not want to take care of these patients. Referring patients to the local urgent care can allow patients to get treatment from providers that are more comfortable with the nuances of workers compensation.
In summary, she says, “It's really all about better channels of communication and building a supportive clinical relationship that nurtures opportunities for collaborative patient care, improving patient compliance, and providing for continuity of care. Isn't that really what we all want? In the end, it may even contribute to managing medical expenses better without compromising clinical outcomes.”
Well said, Judy.