Friday, September 12, 2008

Retail Health Care: Redux

So what do you do if you do not have a regular health care provider and you need preventive care or care for a simple illness? According to a new study by the nonprofit RAND Corporation, you are the type of patient who would patronize a retail health clinic.

If you have missed my prior postings on the subject and have not run across the concept elsewhere, a retail health clinic is a small clinic with limited facilities that is located inside another store. Pharmacies and big box stores seem to be the usual locations they spring up in, at least so far.

At the moment, the U.S. has approximately 1,000 of these clinics, and estimations say the number will grow to a possible 6,000 by 2011. The trend is still in its comparative infancy, but like many kids, it seems to be growing fast. The RAND study is the first recorded examination of the patient demographics for this new wave of retail health care.

Via The Washington Post:

"These clinics appear to attract patients who are not routine users of the current health care system. For these patients, the convenience offered by retail clinics may be more important than the continuity provided by a personal physician," lead author Dr. Ateev Mehrotra, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said in a RAND news release.
The numbers are interesting, and bear out my predictions of earlier posts. People seem to be gravitating to this as an alternative to the perceived cost and hassle of seeing a primary care doctor. To be frank I am looking forward to seeing some of these here in New Orleans. I would certainly consider using them if they were available.
  • 43% of Retail Clinic patients were in the 18 to 44 age range as opposed to to 23% of those visiting primary care physician offices.
  • 39% percent of Retail Clinic patients had a primary care doctor, compared with 80% surveyed nationally.
  • Retail Clinic visits paid for out-of-pocket decreased from 100 percent in 2000 to 16 percent in 2007.
  • Roughly 90% of visits to retail clinics were for preventive care (medical tests) or for treatment of simple conditions or immunizations . These same conditions make up 18% of primary care visits and 12% of emergency department visits.

SOURCE: "Retail Clinics Attracting Those Without Regular Doctors" 09/10/08
photo courtesy of ernestl, used under its Creative Commons license

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