Convenient Care Clinics (CCC) are the solutions in providing quality health care at affordable cost and have been launched across the United States in helping to provide basic health care needs of the public. Such health care centers have been established in pharmacies and retail stores and are administered by nurse practitioners. The CCCs have been labeled by critics as being a means of disruptive innovation in being consumer-driven and in serving the interests of those patients who are not happy and satisfied with conventional health care delivery systems.
But the fact remains that CCCs have been introduced at a juncture when the country’s health care system appears to be dithering, which makes the need for an affordable and efficient health care system all the more important. These services are primarily delivered by nurse practitioners who have the inherent desire to spread access to health care. This health care model enables easy access and is affordable in providing entry points into the facilities for health care, especially for those who were not able to do so previously.
The convenient care clinics do the diagnosis and treat patients for common ailments and refer them to appropriate levels of health care and hence reduce unnecessary visits to urgent care clinics and emergency rooms. It is now well recognized that these centers can fulfill the need for affordable and accessible health care in the country, which was previously not available with the given convenience. These centers provide essential treatment to patients irrespective of whether they are insured or not (Gizmag, 2009). While the concept of CCCs has yet to catch on amongst the majority public, they have shown a considerable potential to provide affordable treatment to patients who would otherwise have to wait for long hours and may be even days for the treatment required by them. The only alternative to these centers is to go for time-consuming and costly emergency treatment for the ailments that would certainly have been avoided if basic amenities for health care were available.
These centers can draw on a very large potential customer base. They can attract almost the entire population regardless of their insurance status, income, gender, or age. Their services are used by those that have health insurance and those that are not insured or are underinsured. Third-party payers and self-pay customers also are increasingly using their services. Experts feel that there is very strong confidence in the profitability of the CCCs. They say that clinics that have been established for some time are already profitable while those that have just started will start making profits within twelve months which is the required time to recoup the initial investments. The US is known to spend the maximum on health care amongst all countries in the world. Yet it ranks only 37 out of 191 parameters in the performance of health systems as per an evaluation done by the World Health Organization. Most developed countries provide minimum baseline coverage of health for their citizens in keeping with their social policies. But the health care system in the US continues to be primarily employer-based and catered by way of private programs of health insurance. According to a report of the Commonwealth Fund 34% of American citizens have to pay over $1000 every year as out-of-pocket expenses on medical treatment due to lapses of coverage as compared to 4% in the UK, and 14% in Australia and Canada respectively. The present scenario is such that health insurance which is employer-sponsored covers three out of five nonelderly Americans. It is thus evident that the cost of health care is in most cases reverting to the employees and consumers increasingly. The elderly are left to either undergo the rigors of getting health care from conventional sources or hope for the government to initiate better strategies.
In this context, it is clear that the CCCs enjoy tremendous potential in tapping the health care needs of the majority of American citizens. In addition to luring customers amongst consumers by way of their affordability and convenient locations, most CCCs are well-positioned as an attractive means of cost-effective alternatives to the time-consuming and expensive visits to emergency establishments. Major target segments for CCCs are the health plans and insurance companies with whom they have contracts so that the patient is only required to pay on a co-pay basis for his visit to the CCC (Steven G. Hillestad, 2003). All Americans are interested in reducing their costs on health care and in tapping this need some insurance companies have started to encourage patients to patronize the CCCs by paying lowered co-pay amounts. Companies that provide health care plans can prove to be a big booster for these centers since the cost of health care is considerably reduced at CCCs as compared to other options of health care. Small businesses can be tapped by CCCs since they eventually benefit because of the easy access which reduces the time taken to stay away from work. The general public will also eventually come to believe that a visit to the CCC is affordable and that the required care is received much earlier which prevents costly and lengthy absenteeism from work. They would also realize that identification and treatment of the ailments are done much earlier in these centers thus saving them so much time and money.
The CCCs have an advantage in attracting insurance companies which enables them to directly bill them independently to receive the payment for their services. Such models of managed care can be very beneficial for the centers because the governments in states passed regulations and laws in attempts to control the rising costs of Medicaid to take benefit of the managed care models of CCCs. In realizing the reduced costs at these centers the governments have started to include the model into publicly funded health care facilities also. Presently about 40% of the CCCS are under contracts as providers of health care with managed care organizations. Hence it becomes a stronger reason for these centers to further tap these resources to expand and get greater amounts of reimbursements in this regard (Harry Beckwith, 2000). It is now widely recognized by the governments and corporations as also by most individuals that Convenient Care Clinics are proving to be a better option to seek health care and hence CCCs must continue to provide better service as also to be innovative in providing better bargains to consumers (Tine Hansen-Turton et al, 2009).
The facilities of CCCs can be further improved by taking feedback from prospective clients regarding their expectations from health care facilities. To determine the needs, wants and preferences of consumers regarding health care facilities, the following questions will be asked to respondents representing different strata of the population:
- Do you hold an insurance health plan
- Do you take prior appointment before visiting a health care center
- Are you satisfied with the health care facilities at emergency rooms
- How much do you normally wait to be attended by a health care worker
- Are you ready to share your medical record with the CCC
- Will you approach a CCC for your health care needs
- If you are satisfied with the service will you use CCCs regularly
- Do have any legal binding in not seeking health care from CCCs
- Has your employer tied up with any CCC
- Would you like your employer to enlist for health care with any CCC
- Do you hold Medicare or Medicaid
- What are your expectations from a health care center
- Do you feel CCCs are a better means to health care
- Have you ever visited a CCC
- Do you have a regular physician
Gizmag, The emergence of the Convenient Care Clinic, 2009, Web.
Harry Beckwith, The Invisible Touch: The Four Keys to Modern Marketing, 2000, Warner Books
Steven G. Hillestad, Eric N. Berkowitz, Health Care Market Strategy: From Planning to Action, 2003, Jossey Bass Wiley
Tine Hansen-Turton, Sandra Ryan, Ken Miller, David B. Nash, Convenient Care Clinics: The Future of Accessible Health Care, Web.