Retail health care clinics provide treatment for acute conditions like bronchitis as well as vaccinations and other preventive care. With the role of retail clinics expanding and U.S. health care entering a dynamic period of change, it is important to consider what we know about this emerging health care setting.
People who visit retail medical clinics are less likely to return to a primary care physician for future illnesses and have less continuity of care. However, no evidence suggests that retail medical clinics disrupt preventive care or management of diabetes, two important measures of quality of primary care.
Visits to retail medical clinics increased four-fold from 2007 to 2009, with the proportion of patients over age 65 growing from 8 to 19 percent of all visits during this period. More than 44 percent of visits occurred on the weekend or other hours when physician offices typically are closed.
Use of retail medical clinics located in pharmacies and other retail settings increased tenfold between 2007 and 2009. The determining factors in choosing one over a physician's office were found to be age, health status, income, and proximity to the clinic.
Retail clinics are an increasingly popular source for medical care. Concerns have been raised about the effect of these clinics on the cost, quality, and delivery of preventive care. The authors compare the care received at retail clinics for 3 acute conditions with that received at other care settings. Retail clinics provide less costly treatment than physician offices or urgent care centers for 3 common illnesses, with no apparent adverse effect on quality of care or delivery of preventive care.
The extent to which retail clinics provide access to care for underserved populations remains largely unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine whether retail clinics tend to be located in census tracts with higher medical need.
Cross-sectional descriptive study describes characteristics of retail clinics, including their location, scope of practice, prices, acceptance of insurance, and ownership, and to estimate the proportion of the U.S. population that lives within a short driving distance of such a clinic.
Retail medical clinics located in pharmacies and other stores typically attract insured and uninsured patients who are seeking help for a small group of easy-to-treat illnesses or preventive care and do not otherwise have a regular health care provider.
The authors examined patterns of rapid HIV testing in a multistage national random sample of private, nonprofit, urban community clinics and community-based organizations to determine the extent of rapid HIV test availability outside the public health system.
Ateev Mehrotra is a policy analyst at the RAND Corporation and associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Prior to this, he worked as a researcher at the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School and the Institute for Health Policy Studies at the…