So, just who exactly goes to a retail clinic in a Wal-Mart or a Kroger grocery store? According to a study discussed in the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog, patients with easy-to-treat symptoms, that's who. Out of 1.35 million visits to more than 300 clinics, most patients (around 90 percent) went for "relatively simple treatments" such as blood pressure checks and ear infections. While that may not seem like anything new, consider that 67 percent of patients had their visits paid for by insurance. (Such retail clinics are often thought of as places where uninsured patients will pay the expenses out of their own pockets)
Still, most of those patients said they did not have a primary care provider. While a big concern going into the study was that these clinics could potentially fracture the doctor-patient relationship, the numbers show that, at least in most cases (three-fifths of patients to be exact), there was never any relationship to begin with.
To learn more:
- read the Wall Street Journal's blog