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Innovating for revenue

Hospitals add retail and wound care clinics to improve care transitions, reduce costs and bring in revenue

Like many businesses faced with a transforming industry, hospital operators are working on ways to evolve into new models while bringing in revenue. One way they’re doing this is by adding services such as retail clinics and wound centers.

As integrated care and population health management become increasingly more important in the overall direction the healthcare industry is moving, adding retail clinics and wound centers to their array of services is a smart move by hospitals. Studies have shown that retail clinics, in particular, are becoming increasingly popular with people as a way of getting basic care.

[See also: Retail clinics gain in popularity]

Caroline Steinberg, vice president at the American Hospital Association, told Healthcare Finance News in November that many hospitals have been looking at various strategies to meet the high volumes of urgent care needs that have been increasingly on the rise. Retail clinics fit the bill because lower-acuity patients or those with episodic needs like the flu can get care in these facilities at a cost much lower than in the ED, she said.

A national study released in mid-November by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) found that the proportion of retail clinics owned by hospital systems doubled (from 9 percent to 18 percent) between 2007 and 2010.

Prominent hospital systems owning and operating clinics include the Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic, Pennsylvania-based Geisinger Health System and California-based Sutter Health.

Other hospitals have taken the route of offering wound care services for their patients as a way to add to the continuum of care once patients have been discharged but still need to properly care for serious wounds in order to prevent further complications and hospital visits.

[See also: Retail clinics slowly gain traction]

CarePoint Health in New Jersey recently opened two new Centers for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Therapy – one at Hoboken University Medical Center in Hoboken, N.J., and the other at Bayonne Medical Center’s Christ Hospital in Jersey City, N.J.

According to Mark Spektor, CEO of Bayonne Medical Center, the two wound care centers apply proven wound care practices and advanced clinical approaches to all types of wounds, including leg ulcers, vascular wounds, bone infections, radiation tissue damage, diabetes-related wounds and slow-healing wounds.

Spektor explained that the two wound care centers are both located in the high-poverty county of Hudson, an area of the state that also sees a high number of uninsured patients, many of which suffer from chronic illnesses such as diabetes.

“We’ve been focusing on providing integrated care to meet our patients’ needs, regardless of their ability to pay,” he said. “The future of healthcare will put most organizations at risk if you don’t start focusing on seamless transitions and reducing costs. It’s no longer going to be fee-for-service.”

Spektor believes the long-term benefits of adding wound care services will outweigh upfront costs.

"Wound care services have existed for a long time, but many hospitals have been outsourcing them," he said. "I think the trend will be that many hospitals will bring wound care centers in internally in order to care for these at-risk patients upfront. The real value is in the downstream effects in preventing complications in the long run.”

[See also: Retail clinic revenues to hit $4.5 billion by 2011]