In thereport from Dow Jones Newswire, industry consultant Tom Charland, chief executive of Merchant Medicine LLC was quoted, saying, “For those in the industry, the nagging problem is what to do with the extra capacity we have in the off season.”
Well, gee – health care is seasonal….what a concept!
I was the first administrator of a specialty practice, and one of the things I did was to report on volume, revenue, etc on a monthly basis. The first year there was a drop in volume in December, and some of the physicians were nervous that this was a trend. In the second year, and with some historic research, I was able to show that this was a normal pattern. Office visits were usually scheduled, as urgent situations belonged in the hospital forthwith.
Now, in fairness, overhanging all this is the recession, which is clearly deep and long lasting. Retail clinics were looking to the uninsured for a portion of their business, so the impact of the recession undoubtedly has impinged on the ability to spend on medical care seen as, fundamentally, discretionary. For
It sounds like, in the end,
I’m still convinced that the retail clinic concept makes sense. Most physician practices are set up on a 9-5, appointment only model. That just doesn’t work for many people. I wonder whether many people don’t seek out a physician at all after hours, or needlessly end up in an ER. This model may still need to be tweaked – perhaps becoming attached to an ER, where people can self-refer, or be triaged over to by an ER. In this model, hospitals have to keep these clinics to the retail model, keeping space and trimmings to a minimum. In costing out the clinic, look more towards direct costs than allocating hospital wide costs to the center, an allocation process that will inevitably make the center a money loser on paper.
The takeaway: sick patients need readily accessible options for care, and keeping your patients within your realm is critical. Create an easy system of relationships where you can refer and make sure that you get them back.