Over the last three years, there’s been an explosion of medical offices opening in the Perimeter area, specifically in Sandy Springs. The city has issued 70 business licenses to all kinds of clinics since 2011, records provided by the city show. There are several new physicians’ offices, walk-in clinics and urgent care centers.
Three of the Sandy Springs centers are considered “urgent care,” offering hours outside the normal work week, and treating conditions that might otherwise be treated in an emergency room, according to city records. The city has permitted 12 new physicians’ offices, including one primary care doctor.
Growth in doctor’s offices appears in other parts of the Perimeter area, too. Perimeter Clinic Buckhead Office Manager Sasha Kron said she’s seen 12 clinics open up nearby within the last three years. Kron’s office has been open for eight years, and Kron remembers when her clinic saw up to 60 patients a day.
She said she anticipates seeing more patients and clinics because of the new federal Affordable Care Act, which went into effect this month. One key provision of the new law, also known as “Obamacare,” is that it requires millions of Americans to enroll for health insurance, if they don’t already have it. President Barack Obama signed the health care law in 2010.
“Oh, absolutely it will bring more in,” Kron said. “Will it be quality medicine? I don’t know.”
Dr. Okiki Louis, regional medical director for Concentra’s Southeast Region, said the company was interested in opening a walk-in clinic closer to Sandy Springs’ aging Baby Boomer population. Concentra opened three different clinics along Roswell Road within the last three years: an urgent care, primary care and therapy clinic.
“The Sandy Springs location is in a high-traffic retail space,” Louis said. “It lies on a busy street in the Sandy Springs/Perimeter area, so there is high visibility. This particular center is part of our new Integrated Wellness Center model where both primary care and urgent care offices make up the facility. In addition, the wellness center is adjacent to a Humana guidance center, so it allows us to also serve the Humana members’ medical needs and create a meeting space for the senior community.”
Louis said Concentra sees the ACA as an opportunity as more patients walk through the clinic’s doors.
“We anticipate an increased use in urgent care facilities as more patients become covered under plans in the exchanges and seek medical resources for routine health issues,” Louis said. “In the long term we see greater opportunities to expand the continuum of care through the use of (electronic health record) systems, greater connection to health care systems, and a greater focus on wellness and long-term health.”
Louis said that Concentra is getting ready by putting its records system in place and implementing care coordinators who will help patients find providers and specialists.
“We have also expanded our focus to include primary care centers in order to create additional access points for newly-covered patients and longer-term medical homes,” Louis said.
Kron said that she thinks there will also be a rise in clinics that accept no insurance at all because physicians will want to avoid the hassle of processing new insurances. She said her main selling point will be the quality of care patients receive at Perimeter Clinic.
“I think, in a way, the healthcare law is going to benefit me,” Kron said. “You can offer more quality. Patients are going to come and see you.”