Retail clinics show strong appeal among consumers for several basic health care services, according to a new Harris Interactive poll.

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Consumers amenable to retail clinics, Harris poll finds

September 10th, 2012

NEW YORK – Retail clinics show strong appeal among consumers for several basic health care services, according to a new Harris Interactive poll.

The researcher said Monday that of more than 2,300 U.S. adults surveyed, 65% indicated they likely would go to a retail health clinic — at a drug store like CVS or Walgreens or a mass merchant like Walmart, or an urgent care facility or other walk-in medical clinic — for flu shots, and 53% likely would visit a retail clinic to receive care for a cold or flu-like symptoms.

Many consumers also said they likely would go to a retail clinic for treating a cut or puncture wound (49%) or a rash (47%), cholesterol or blood pressure tests (47%), or lab services such as blood sugar testing (47%).

Harris Interactive noted that even treatments least likely to be sought at a retail clinic still represent reasonably strong niche markets. The poll revealed that 39% of consumers likely would visit a clinic to get care for an arm or foot injury, including a possible sprain or break. Other health conditions or services consumers said they would likely to a clinic for include an X-ray (36%); an asthma flare-up or elevated blood sugar (36%); a wellness visit, regular checkup or preventive care (33%); and a regular checkup regarding a chronic condition (27%).

Other Harris Interactive surveys have shown that retail clinics' appeal is based on convenience (location, long hours and open on weekends), the ability to walk in without an appointment, and price. The ability to accept insurance is also key, the researcher said, added that such findings also are relevant to insurers, for which retail clinics may be a less expensive way of providing care and a viable alternative to emergency rooms.

The findings on retail clinics were part of the Harris poll's broader focus on patient choice and the patient experience in the "age of the health care consumer" following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which will lead to millions of more consumers with health insurance coverage. The study also examined satisfaction with health care visits compared with other consumer services, as well as surging consumer interest in online services such as online access to medical records, e-mail access to doctors, online appointment setting, and online billing and payment.

"Customer experience matters in health care and will continue to impact purchasing decisions and customer retention," stated Debra Richman, senior vice president of health care business development and strategy at Harris Interactive. "The health care consumer is increasingly evaluating brand equity, convenience and product or service value as they make choices. In an increasingly competitive health care marketplace, a positive customer experience will serve to differentiate health plans and providers."