Lack of immediate access to primary care increases costs and puts health outcomes at risk.
Bellin Health, a nonprofit health system in Wisconsin, increased access to primary care services by establishing 40 retail clinics in supermarkets and other stores. Staffed by nurse practitioners and overseen by an affiliated Bellin primary care practice that is connected to the retail clinic via electronic health records, the FastCare clinics have become a destination for patients seeking basic primary care services such as health screenings. This, in turn, has freed up Bellin's primary care practices to see complex patients more quickly. Bellin's 41 employer-based clinics also facilitate immediate access to care.
Bellin estimates that the FastCare clinics have saved $52 million over four years by averting emergency department visits by patients who cannot get to the doctor's office during regular business hours. The health system's costs have been relatively flat in recent years, while the costs of other systems continue to rise.