Providers eye urgent care clinics

Friday, October 12, 2012

YARMOUTH, Maine – Urgent care clinics are popping up all over the country and HME providers are wondering how they can capitalize on that trend.

"We'd never really paid attention to them before, but we have started to see it as an opportunity for the company," said Drew Devlin, vice president for clinical services at Landauer Metropolitan in Mount Vernon, N.Y. "Mostly, what they are looking for from us is nebulizers, canes, walkers, crutches—that type of item."

There are currently about 9,300 urgent care clinics, up from 8,700 in 2008, according to the Urgent Care Association of America.

That trend will likely continue, providers say: With millions expected to join the ranks of the insured under the Affordable Care Act, urgent care clinics are expected to attract patients who want quicker or more convenient service than they can get from a physician's office.

“We need to fit within that expectation by being convenient for them and ready to provide equipment and service ASAP for the patient and referral source," said Sheehan, president and CEO of Sandwich, Mass.-based Cape Medical Supply.

The wide range of patients that urgent care clinics serve—from pediatrics to geriatrics—means providers may want to rethink their product and service offerings, they say.

"Right now, it's hard to cover the whole scope with the way they’re structured," said Randy Freeman, owner of Mediwell in Forth Worth, Texas. "That tells us we need to look a lot harder at our product mix. I think over time those will end up being a good piece of business."

While urgent care clinics may be a potential new referral source, some providers minimize their importance as far as the HME industry is concerned.

"It's not a place I see referring patients for DME other than the occasional wheelchair or crutches," said Mike Kuller, president and founder of Concord, Calif.-based AllStar Medical Supplies.