In-store clinics gaining traction

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NEW YORK — Walk-in medical clinics located in retail pharmacies, workplaces and other venues are growing in popularity, according to a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll.

Twenty-seven percent of all adults surveyed said they have used either walk-in retail clinics (19%) or work-based clinics (11%) to obtain medical care in the past two years, up from 7% in 2008.

“This survey shows a large increase in the numbers of people using retail clinics over the last few years since earlier surveys, which used slightly different questions,” said Harris Poll chairman Humphrey Taylor.

Younger adults were more likely to have used such a facility compared with older adults. Forty percent of adults ages 25 to 29 had used a retail or work-based clinic compared with 15% of adults 65 and older.

This is not surprising, given that older adults tend to have more chronic health problems and such “drop-in” clinics are geared more for acute services, said Kathleen Jaeger, senior vice president of pharmacy care and patient advocacy at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

The survey found people were most likely to visit either a retail or work-based clinic for such ailments as colds or flu-like symptoms and minor cuts and wounds and for routine needs such as flu shots, prescriptions and to check blood pressure or cholesterol. Fewer respondents indicated willingness to use these clinics for potentially more serious concerns.

Survey respondents who had used such a clinic were generally happy with the care they received, although fewer than half said they were “extremely” or “very” satisfied.”

But 18% of those who had used retail clinics and 27% of those who had used work-based clinics said they were only “somewhat” or “not at all” satisfied.

About three-quarters of those who had used a clinic were covered by their insurance when they used the service.

Convenience was key to consumers opting for retail clinic care. The most frequent reasons cited for using either an in-store clinic or work-based clinic was that the clinics didn’t require an appointment, had a convenient location, involved short waiting times, had accessible hours, and were affordable and/or accepting of the person’s particular insurance.

“It’s really that combination of quality, accessibility and affordability that’s driven the growth of these clinics and the utilization of the clinics,” said Web Golinkin, chief executive officer of RediClinic, which provides health care clinics at H-E-B grocery stores.


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