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Retail medical clinics attract patients who do not have regular health care providers
Date:9/9/2008

Retail medical clinics located in pharmacies and other stores typically attract insured and uninsured patients who are seeking help for a small group of easy-to-treat illnesses or preventive care and do not otherwise have a regular health care provider, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

"These clinics appear to attract patients who are not routine users of the current health care system," said lead author Dr. Ateev Mehrotra, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "For these patients, the convenience offered by retail clinics may be more important than the continuity provided by a personal physician."

The RAND Health study is the first to examine the types of patients who use the retail clinics and the health care services delivered by the clinics, which are growing in number and popularity. The findings are published in the September/October of the journal Health Affairs.

Researchers analyzed details about more than 1.3 million visits to retail clinics from 2000 to 2007. The information was obtained from eight retail clinic operators that accounted for three-quarters of the clinics in operation as of July 2007. Information from that analysis was compared to national data on visits to both emergency departments and primary care physician offices. Among the findings reported by researchers:

  • Patients aged 18 to 44 accounted for 43 percent of the people visiting retail clinics, compared to 23 percent for primary care physician offices. Just 39 percent of the patients at retail clinics said they had a primary care physician, while 80 percent of people surveyed nationally say they have a personal doctor.

  • Patients visiting retail clinics when they first opened were likely to pay the cost out of their own pocket, but most patients are now using insurance to pay the bills. The percentage of retail office visits
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Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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