Practice Notes

Don't let 'stranger danger' limit the potential of your retail NPs

Cabell Jonas and Jordan Stone

States that allow nurse practitioners (NPs) to practice and prescribe medication independently—without physician supervision—provide care at lower cost to patients in retail clinics, with no change in clinical quality.

For any organization looking to maximize retail clinics as lower-cost care sites, modifying state regulations to expand NP autonomy should be a long-term goal. But to unlock the value of retail clinics in the short term, providers need to make them an integrated referral point within their network.

This starts with getting physicians to place a greater level of trust in retail NPs.

Employ familiar NPs to win physician trust—and establish buy-in

Some physicians are reluctant to send patients to retail clinics because they fear primary care competition or harbor clinical distrust. However, retail sites can be a useful alternative for low-severity needs when a physician office is closed or a clinic is over capacity.

Using familiar staff to solve the PCP capacity problem

To overcome PCP resistance, pseudonymed Russo Health sources its retail NPs from local physician offices. As a result, physicians are more comfortable sending surplus cases to the clinic because they know that the patient will receive high-quality care. Russo’s retail clinics even see enough patients to generate a modest profit.

Use IT to link physician offices and retail clinics

In addition to using familiar staff, Russo also links its system-wide EMR with to the retail clinic. That way, physicians can access updated patient files shortly after a retail clinic appointment and stay apprised of necessary follow-up. If follow-up care is required, the retail clinic staff refers the patient back to the PCP, reinforcing physician trust in the clinic's role as a complement to primary care.

Using these two tactics to maximize the use of retail clinics, medical groups can advance toward reducing total cost of care.

  • Need help choosing a retail clinic partner?

    Thinking about entering a retail clinic partnership, but unsure of which model is the best fit for your organization? We can help. Contact Cabell Jonas at for more information.

Want More on NP Scope of Practice? Look No Further.

Check out our guide to state restrictions on NP practice. Then, read our related posts:

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