3 Nontraditional Primary Care Options to Consider

Posted on: April 13, 2016

written by

Emma Siemasko

In our changing healthcare landscape, providers and patients are finding new, more modern ways to interact. In fact, there’s a growing market for on-demand access to services that don’t require patients to establish a pre-existing relationship with their care providers. According to “The Virtual Primary Healthcare Revolution: What Health Systems Need To Know,” a paper released in 2014, these delivery channels are expected to grow in the coming years.

An HRI survey found that 81 percent of patient respondents were open to nontraditional ways of getting medical attention, such as retail health clinics, virtual visits, clinician house calls, do-it-yourself home diagnostics, and remote monitoring through a medical device or smartphone app. These options present new avenues for patients — and fresh opportunities for the physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and other medical experts who treat them. Nontraditional primary care allows you to provide your patients with better care and give yourself a lifestyle that works best for you.

Here are three nontraditional primary-care options that are gaining traction:

1. Retail Clinics

Retail clinics are opening across the country in drugstore chains such as Walgreens and CVS, and in large retail chains like Walmart.

These clinics are convenient: Patients are usually able to walk in and see a doctor or nurse after a brief wait rather than making an appointment with their PCP. These patients can often check in using a computer kiosk, and clinics accept most insurance plans. 

You'll most likely see patients suffering from bad colds, the flu, or other relatively minor maladies, because retail clinics aren’t ideal for X-rays, scans, or mental health concerns.

2. Telemedicine

Today, people use the Internet to video chat with family, collaborate with colleagues, and email just about anybody. Why should that be different when patients want to contact their physicians? And not only that, but wouldn’t it be nice to see a patient virtually from the comfort of your own home?

Telemedicine provides access to U.S. board-certified doctors and pediatricians via phone or online video consultations. One such service is Barton Telehealth, a web-based platform designed to provide safe, secure, and effective virtual healthcare.

According to the 2015 Milliman Medical Index, most families spend thousands on out-of-pocket healthcare costs each year. Because of this, some now use virtual services to complement visits to their PCP. Additionally, many employers are opting to include virtual options in their health plans to help cut down on insurance costs.

3. House Calls

A house call may sound like an old-school way to see a doctor — something out of Little House on the Prairie, maybe  — but technologists are now bringing visiting physicians to major cities.

If a person wants to make a little extra jingle in an urban area, they might consider driving for a service like Uber or Lyft. As a healthcare provider, you can similarly offer on-demand services that suit your schedule. This style of living is convenient for both you and the patients you see.

Heal, a new app, began in Los Angeles and is expected to roll out its services to 15 other major cities in the next year. Patients can use it to call a physician, who will come to their door in less than 60 minutes. The patient will then be charged $99 as a flat fee. As a provider, you can sign up for the service and provide care when doing so works for you.

Get Involved With Nontraditional Care

No matter how much healthcare changes, patients will always need viable options to get the care they need. As a provider, you can try out some of these nontraditional avenues with locum tenens assignments. 

Would you consider working at a retail clinic or signing up to make house calls through an app? Let us know in the comments!

About Emma Siemasko

Emma Siemasko is a writer and marketing consultant who specializes in career advice, startups, and healthcare. She has contributed to a variety of healthcare publications, and enjoys the attention she gets when she visits a doctor or nurse.

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