Without building a hospital, one large chain, Continuum Health Partners, is establishing a beachhead in Chelsea and the Village by connecting with outpatient clinics, trying to dominate the market and create a feeder network for its hospitals in other neighborhoods. It is joining forces not just with traditional clinics but also with newer experiments like doctors working out of drugstores. A competitor, NYU Langone Medical Center, is expanding its physician practices downtown, and like Continuum, it has hired dozens of stranded St. Vincent’s doctors.
The integration will reduce costs if it is cheaper to see patients in a clinic than in an emergency room or physician's office. Regardless, the vertical relationship benefits both the retail clinic and the hospital:
The hospital system checks doctors’ credentials and provides — and bills for — laboratory, radiology and imaging services prescribed by the [retail] doctors. The system also gets a potential trove of patients referred by the clinics. The [retail] clinics earn the cachet of being associated with major hospitals, and as with other affiliated practices, the [retail] patients are given expedited access to Continuum specialists and direct access to hospital admission if needed.