The Rise of Retail Clinics and Their Effect on Primary Care

According to the nonprofit RAND Corporation, there are now more than 1,300 retail health clinics in the United States. The clinics, which offer basic, walk-in health care for minor health problems have been increasing in popularity among Americans with private health insurance. For some patients, the appeal is the convenience of not having to schedule or wait for an appointment and for others, it’s the cost savings.

How will retail clinics affect the relationship you have with your patients?

A recent study showed that the impact of retail medical clinics on doctor-patient relationships was mixed. “It may make it difficult to maintain the quality and continuity of medical care,” said Dr. Ateev Mehrotra, a researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. However, Mehrotra believes that their “scope of care is limited.”

Mehtotra went on to explain that retail clinics “don’t want to replace primary care providers” and that there is a push in the U.S. for more people to have a “medical home” – a single doctor who oversees most of a patient’s healthcare. A comprehensive provider is critical to improving the quality of Americans’ healthcare, including preventative services.

Advice: If your patients visit retail health clinics, request that they have the records of their care faxed or sent to you. This will make sure you are always “in the loop” with their overall health.

Sound Off: Have retail health clinics impacted your relationship with patients?


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