This month HIMSS kicks off its Pop Health Forum 2016 event in Chicago. The lead media partner for the event is Healthcare IT News, which puts out a lot of pre-conference content. But in reading the articles about the strategies and tactics health systems should be employing for a successful population health program, very little is said about on-demand services. In fact, one article lists five steps to a successful population health framework and there isn’t a single mention of walk-in care. You’d think the journalists at Healthcare IT News (mostly millennials) would understand how difficult it is to get their generation in for an appointment.
At Merchant Medicine, all of this fits a pattern we have observed over the last two years. Despite the fact that primary care physicians feel under threat from retail and urgent care clinic operators, the traditional medical community appears to be blind to a unique opportunity. Under the right circumstances, we believe health systems and their employed medical groups can enter the walk-in space with what we would call “Urgent Care 2.0,” which is a primary care-urgent care hybrid of sorts. The model that we’ll describe is unique to health systems because their employed medical groups own the primary care relationships, at least in the payers’ minds. They are invested in and have the wherewithal to pull off population health management. And as a result, they can take advantage of the alternative payment models (APMs), many of which are not offered to, or bear far too much risk for, the independent retail and urgent care operators.