Primary Care


United Hospital Fund

Funding Area

Primary Care


February 6, 2015


This NYHealth-funded United Hospital Fund report on urgent care centers and retail clinics in New York State presents both the potential benefits and risks for the health care system of these new types of ambulatory care—known collectively as convenient care. The report examines the 366 urgent care centers and 18 retail clinics operating statewide, and pays special attention to the medically underserved and children.

Costs per episode of care may prove to be lower through convenient care than through other care options, and convenient care providers offer expanded access to care for some patients. But because convenient care services and staffing vary so widely, consumers may lack information to select the most appropriate site of care, and the episodic nature of convenient care may put some patients at risk for less continuity of care.

The report presents five policy options that the State could consider to establish basic consumer and public health protections:

  • Define urgent care centers and retail clinics, and adopt or develop standards for their services.
  • Encourage convenient care providers to proactively connect patients who lack primary care providers to a permanent source of care, and support their doing so.
  • Promote connection with regional health information exchanges and the SHIN-NY health information system when it is operational.
  • Develop consensus on quality and safety measures and their reporting.
  • Encourage greater access for underserved areas and populations, without jeopardizing current special designations.