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Despite Rapid Growth, Retail Clinic Use Remains Modest

A new Center for Studying Health System Change report looks at the growth and use of retail health clinics. Highlights from the briefing include:

  • Just over 4 million American families used a retail clinic in the previous year, according to 2010 estimates, up from 1.7 million in 2007.
  • Nearly 7 million families reported ever using a retail clinic, or about 5% of US families.
  • Convenience — extended hours, walk-in acceptance, or nearby location — was the most frequent reason for a visit.
  • Lower cost was also a key factor for low-income or uninsured patients.
  • Retail clinics were more likely to be located in higher income areas.
  • Vast majority of retail clinics now accept private insurance [which was not always the case].
  • Diagnosis and treatment of a new disease accounted for about 70% of all clinic visits. Vaccinations and prescription renewals were less frequent reasons for a visit.
  • The proportion of retail clinics operated by hospitals grew to 18% in 2010, doubling from the 2007 ratio.

Retail clinical service expansion into chronic disease management is mentioned as a new trend among retail clinics. State regulation of retail clinics is briefly discussed as well. Finally, health reform, cost control, and accountable care may all have implications for the future role of retail clinics.

Source: Tu HT and Boukus ER. Despite rapid growth, retail clinic use remains modest. Center for Studying Health System Change Research Brief, no. 29, Nov. 2013. http://www.hschange.org/CONTENT/1392/

Related post: Projections: 2826 retail clinics in 2015

Other resources:

Convenient Care Association

Urgent Care Association of America

Merchant Medicine market data

Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

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