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NPs Lower Costs at Retail Health Clinics

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, November 12, 2013

Moreover, eliminating NPs' scope-of-practice restrictions would potentially provide even greater cost savings, finds the study, "Scope-Of-Practice Laws For Nurse Practitioners Limit Cost Savings That Can Be Achieved In Retail Clinics."

The study estimates that the "savings would be $810 million greater if all states allowed NPs to practice independently and $472 million greater if NPs could both practice and prescribe independently."

The Convenience Factor
The increased use of and cost savings from retail clinics have several implications for nurse and other healthcare executives, says study co-author Joanne Spetz, PhD, a professor at the Institute for Health Policy Studies and associate director for Research Strategy at the Center for the Health Professions at the University of California, San Francisco.

"I think hospital leaders and primary care clinics can be thinking of how they can leverage retail clinics or how they can have an urgent care drop-in clinic-type model," Spetz tells me. "That convenience factor in meeting people's needs is going to be increasingly important."

In the interest of serving—or maybe reclaiming—patients who want this kind of convenience, healthcare organizations might consider establishing drop-in clinics of their own. Nurse practitioners are the logical choice for staffing such clinics, Spetz says.

Retail clinics provide relatively limited care and don't usually treat conditions that require follow up. NPs are great at providing this kind of care because they "really do have a great level of knowledge for that," Spetz says. "They have the clinical skills to know if someone is truly sick… but they are also really adept at providing the really basic primary care services that people are coming to these clinics for."

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