HRO Today April 2014 - 47

Healthcare Hiring
and physician assistants worked in the convenience care
industry, according to the book Convenient Care Clinics:
The Essential Guide to Retail Clinics, published last year by
Springer. Those numbers will likely grow, too, as the industry
grows.
HR must also consider that the growing shortage of primary
care physicians has created an increased demand for the
services of advanced practice clinicians. So anyone looking to
hire nurse practitioners and physician assistants will have to
factor in the surging demand for their services. That means
that owners of retail clinics and other types of healthcare
facilities may have to strategically compete for them.
Industry Growth Trends
The industry experienced rapid growth between 2003 and
2008. The biggest growth tailed off at that point, but even
then, it continued to grow steadily each year, according to
global management-consulting company Accenture. For
example, 2013 was not considered a year for significant
expansion for retail clinics, according to Merchant Medicine,
LLC, which tracks the growth of the convenient care
industry. But even so, nearly 200 new retail clinics opened
between March 1, 2013, and March 1, 2014.
And 2014 is shaping up to be a better year, Merchant
Medicine is predicting. Even with mixed growth in 2013,
some of the biggest players in the market had banner
years, most notably MinuteClinic, the business unit of CVS
Caremark, and the Walgreens Health Care Clinics. And
they'll likely have an even bigger year in 2015, Merchant
Medicine predicts.
Accenture is also forecasting some major growth in the
industry. In a report released last summer at the annual
America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Institute, it
predicted that the number of retail health clinics in the
United States will double in the next three years, at least
partially as a result of the increase in newly insured patients
under the Affordable Care Act. By 2015, there could be
nearly 2,900 clinics.
This all translates into more job opportunities for advanced
practice clinicians and the support staff who work in retail
clinics.
Retail Clinic Staff
The demand for nurse practitioners and physician assistants
has increased with both the increased physician shortages
and the onset of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care
Act; however, the future for these advanced practitioners
continues to brighten. According to an AMN Healthcare
2013 survey by the physician brand, Merritt Hawkins, search
assignments for nurse practitioners and physicians increased
by 164 percent from the year prior. Both of these advanced
practitioners ranked in the top 20 most requested physician
searches by medical specialty for the first time in the 20
years of this survey.
In February, the American Medical Group Association
published the results of the 2013 Advanced Practice Clinician
Compensation and Pay Practices Survey Report. The report
emphasized that the already high demand for nurse
practitioners and physician assistants will continue.
As demand for physician assistants has increased, the
profession has grown by 34 percent since 2006, according to
the American Academy of Physician Assistants. The nursepractitioner
workforce continues to grow, too. The U.S.
Health Resources and Services Administration forecasts 30
percent growth from 55,400 primary care nurse practitioners
in 2010 to 72,100 in 2020.
The question is this: Will the supply keep up with demand?
As the RAND Corporation noted in the 2010 paper " Policy
Implications of the Use of Retail Clinics, " health reform and
the ongoing shortage of primary care physicians has already
created growing demand for more nurse practitioners,
irrespective of the rise in retail clinics. " If the number of
retail clinics grows, the number of nurse practitioners
required to staff these clinics will also rise, " the RAND study
said.
The bottom line: With millions gaining new access to health
insurance, someone has to care for them. Many are counting
on nurse practitioners and physicians assistants, which puts
them in the driver's seat. They can choose to work in a
regular office setting, a hospital, or a retail setting. Potential
employers will have to determine how to successfully
persuade these professionals to pick them.
Hospitals Getting in the Game
Even hospitals and health systems are recognizing the
potential of the retail clinic industry and are beginning
to partner with existing companies to operate them.
Many people who use retail clinics do not have primary
care physicians, and by partnering with the clinics, health
systems can sign-up patients with their own primary care
practitioners. It's a win-win, they say, because it creates
additional access points to the healthcare systems, while
providing the retail clinics with useful patient care resources.
Accenture's report entitled Retail Medical Clinics: From Foe
to Friend? notes that the venture can give larger hospital
systems a chance to expand their reach. It could be more
challenging for smaller systems, but the possibility is still
there. In the future, retail clinics will remain a viable option
for many common health conditions. And their clinical
reach will likely expand to more diagnostic and treatment
choices in coming years. And as staffing and employment
opportunities, retail clinics could provide expanding
possibilities as their growth continues.
Ralph Henderson is president of healthcare staffing for AMN Healthcare.
APRIL 2014 | www.hrotoday.com
[47]
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HRO Today April 2014

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