KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Study: Retail Clinics Offer Quality Care

Retail walk-in medical clinics offer quality care, according to a new study. U.S. News & World Report reports: "Writing in the Sept. 1 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, study author Dr. Ateev Mehrotra said that retail clinics - which are typically staffed by nurse practitioners and found in drug stores and other retail chain stores such as Target and Wal-Mart - provide a good standard of care for sore throat, ear infections and urinary tract infections. Mehrotra is an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a policy analyst at Rand Health."

This type of clinic has become widespread. "One such operation is CVS's MinuteClinic, the focus of Mehrotra's research. MinuteClinic staffers treat minor illnesses and injuries, and provide vaccinations and various health and wellness services. Customers can walk in without an appointment, and the clinics are open seven days a week. Most visits take no more than 15 minutes, and costs vary from $30 to $110, according to the MinuteClinic Web site. According to Mehrotra, one-third of Americans live within a 10-minute drive of a retail clinic, and more than 6,000 of these clinics are expected to open across the United States within five years. Surveys of patients who received care at retails clinics have been positive, he added" (West, 8/31).

Time reports that "with local and regional hospitals such as the Cleveland Clinic increasingly working in partnership with such retail operations, more and more of these in-store outlets are likely to open. Which means more and more of us will be putting health care on the weekly shopping lists, along with the milk and bread" (Kluger, 9/1).

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