Need proof that consumers want convenient medical care? Just look at a study by the National Institutes of Health, which shows a sharp rise in visits to retail clinics.
Visits to retail clinics, which are located in a variety of settings such as strip malls, pharmacies, grocery stores and other big chain stores, grew fourfold between 2007 and 2009. In addition, these clinics are attracting more older patients and delivering more preventive care, particularly flu shots and other vaccinations. A study from the RAND Corporation found that the proportion of patients over age 65 grew from 8 percent to 19 percent of all visits during this period.
More than 44 percent of visits to the clinics occurred on the weekend or other hours when physician offices typically are closed, suggesting retail clinics meet a need for convenient care, according to the RAND study.
Retail clinics (also called convenient care clinics) are an increasingly popular option for people who need diagnosis and treatment for common, non-life-threatening conditions. Nurse practitioners (NPs) are the primary care providers in these clinics.
Retail clinics are projected to account for about 10 percent of outpatient primary care visits by 2015, according to a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) and in the November issue of Health Affairs.