The one truism of the Affordable Care Act is that this legislation created the empowered patient. The empowered patient evolved from technology, transparency and a lack of primary care providers needed to service the patient population. What the empowered patient demands from the medical marketplace is better outcomes, at a lower cost delivered in a shorter cycle. What does the empowered patient expect from healthcare? The exact same level of service, choices and access they receive from any other retail provider.
This shift in the delivery of care models has fostered an entrepreneurial spirit among free thinkers. Urgent care center, and specialized urgent care centers, have begun to emerge in shopping and commercial centers across the nation. Entrepreneurs and medical professionals quickly realized that the cost to own and operate these centers are far less expensive than traditional practices and that their clinician experience is also vastly superior. Urgent care centers, specialized or not, are also able to adapt consumer focused technology into their business models more efficiently and effectively. One of the best examples of the win-win between patient and provider in the new age of healthcare retailization is OrthoNOW, the nation’s only orthopedic urgent care franchise.
Christine Dura, the brand’s Chief Development Officer, said “OrthoNOW as a viable business model was made possible by the transformation of the healthcare industry from 2010 to present. The ability to offer a patient first line access to a specialist versus the traditional emergency room scenario; referral to a specialist after initial contact with an ER doctor, answers a critical need of the empowered patient”. Further, we can offer our mobile app, at no cost, including a revolutionary feature called On My Way NOWTM that allows the patient to find the nearest center, alert the staff they are coming, upload pictures of their injury and a description, and summon Uber to transport them to the awaiting specialist medical team should they be unable to transport themselves”.
Mary Beth Kuzmanovich, National Director of Healthcare Services for the real estate giant Colliers, confirmed this trend in a January of 2016 statement. Kuzmanovich was quoted “In a push to lower cost healthcare providers have been shifting care away from hospitals to outpatient facilities for several years. This ongoing movement further increases demand for medical office space. Existing facilities will have to be renovated and new buildings will need flexible designs to keep up with emerging healthcare technology, which is transforming how and where patient care is delivered.”
The one truism of 2017 is that the empowered patient will continue to consume medical services at urgent care centers and those who will proper are those which embrace medical retailization.