Bellin Health Reacts to AAP’s Policy on Retail Health Clinics

Bellin Health officials say there are key indicators consumers should consider when selecting a retail health clinic to receive care.

“Retail health clinics can help address an unmet or underserved need in the community,” said Amy Dettman, vice president, physician division. “However, they are not all created equally.”

Bellin operates three retail health clinics under the FastCare name, and has partnered with health systems across the country to establish their own FastCare clinics in a retail setting.

Patient care for minor ailments is provided by a physician assistant or nurse practitioner, under the direction of a physician who serves as the medical director. The medical director is responsible for reviewing charts and ensuring the adherence to strict guidelines and standards.

A visit summary is sent electronically to the patient’s primary care physician or pediatrician. If the patient does not yet have a doctor, assistance is offered to establish that relationship.

For those reasons, Bellin Health does not agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics assessment that retail health clinics are “an inappropriate source of primary care for pediatric patients” and are “detrimental to the medical home concept.”

“Within their policy, there seems to be an assumption that all care must take place in a pediatrician’s office, or it is not consistent with a medical home. That simply is not the case,” said Dettman. “Access to quality care within our community and coordination of care between those access points are much better indicators. We’ve designed our health system around those points, including our electronic medical record system.”

Dettman added that the seven-days-a-week hours and the set visit fee of the FastCare clinics offer convenience to consumers.

When selecting a retail health clinic, she recommended consumers look for three qualities:

1.    The clinic is affiliated with a health care system to ensure quality standards.
2.    The clinic has an integrated electronic medical record to relay patient visit information to a primary care physician or pediatrician.
3.    The clinic provides patient education on the importance of a primary care or pediatrician relationship and helps to establish that relationship if it does not exist. The retail clinic cannot be the medical home.

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