NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New Style of Health Care Emerges to Fill Hospital's Void

October 16, 2012

In Greenwich Village, a neighborhood in New York, health care providers are fighting for supremacy in the market in the aftermath of the St. Vincent's Hospital shutdown. The competition has provided a laboratory for what health care reform may look like in an urban area, says the New York Times.

  • For example, Continuum Health Partners is trying to create a feeder network for its hospitals in other neighborhoods by joining up with clinics and doctors working out of drugstores.
  • Another competitor, NYU Langone Medical Center, is expanding its physician practices downtown as well.
  • Moreover, many walk-in care centers have rushed into the city.

These companies are all establishing clinics that seek to provide convenient, affordable quality care. Rather than have long waiting lines in hospitals, these clinics emphasize efficiency and deal with minor illnesses.

The impact of the increased competition is still unknown as these clinics and other hospitals try to find a way to provide the best quality care for patients. A study by the RAND Corporation found significant savings without any tradeoff in care quality from these newer models of care. Surprisingly, in its study RAND found that the quality of care was actually worse for patients that went to emergency rooms than retail clinics.

For the time being, it seems as though these hospital systems and retail clinics mutually benefit from each other. For example, Continuum is affiliated with several doctors that practice out of the Duane Reade drugstores, which allows Continuum the ability to check doctors' credentials, and provide lab, radiology and imaging services. Duane Reade clinics benefit by being associated with major hospitals, which bring in more patients.

Opponents of these retail clinics contend that the doctors are not trained enough to detect more serious ailments like cancer. However, if that were the case, there would be several malpractice suits against these clinics.

Source: Anemona Hartocollis, "New Style of Health Care Emerges to Fill Hospital's Void," New York Times, October 9, 2012.


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