The Convenience Revolution for Treatment of Low-Acuity Conditions

Published In: JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, v. 310, no. 1, Viewpoint, July 2013, p. 35-36

Posted on RAND.org on July 01, 2013

by Ateev Mehrotra

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This perspective piece summarizes recent research on expanding options for consumers who seek treatment for low-acuity medical conditions, such as bronchitis and urinary tract infections. As recently as 10 years ago, patients mainly sought care for such conditions at primary care offices or emergency rooms. In recent years, however, a raft of new options has become available, including retail clinics, urgent care centers, employer-based clinics, telephone visits, and electronic visits via electronic kiosks or home computers. The popularity of these new options indicates that they fill an unmet need. For example, retail clinic visits increased fourfold between 2007 and 2009 and currently account for almost 6 million annual visits. Research suggests that the main driver of this expansion in new options is convenience.

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