Retail-Based Clinics: Is Care Quality a Concern?

Two physicians share their insight regarding the quality of care patients receive in retail-based clinics.

While some physicians fear that the quality of care their patients receive in retail-based clinics (RBCs) may not be as good as the care they receive in the primary physician's office, pediatrician Terence McAllister, who has had patients visit retail clinics after-hours and on the weekends, says his experience with RBCs has been quite positive.

From a care-quality perspective, RBCs have done an "appropriate job," they don't seem to be overprescribing antibiotics, and they tend to refer patients to the emergency room quite readily if necessary, he says. "I think they do a good job of kind of knowing their limitations there, so clinically, I don't have any concerns for the care [my patients] are getting there."

Internal medicine physician Simon Samaha, principal at PwC's health industries practice, agrees that most retail clinics do a good job of knowing when to refer out. One reason: They are very "protocol" oriented, often much more than a typical private practice, he says. So, if providers at the RBC notice something unexpected or troublesome, they don't hesitate to make the referral. "There are a lot of flags that would come up quickly and say that the patient needs to be referred," says Samaha.