Retail-based Health Clinics: A Benefit or Detriment to Patient Care?

May 27, 2014

For many patients, the convenience of retail-based clinics is difficult to resist. But do you think it is a healthy way to provide patient care?

For many patients, the convenience and quick service provided by retail-based clinics (RBCs) is difficult to resist. But is it a healthy way to receive and provide patient care?

In a recent Practice Notes blog, practice administrator Lean Didomenico McCallister, wrote that while such clinics have their drawbacks, they also provide useful alternatives to her practice's patients.

"For us, the main benefit of RBCs is that they do what we do not want to do, namely they open on nights, weekends, and holidays," she wrote. "After being open for seven years I can confidently say that our patients enjoy many benefits from being a patient at our micropractice, including personalized, well coordinated continuity of care; same-day appointments; long visits; and no wait in our waiting room. But one major negative is that we cannot staff as many hours as the larger, multi-provider practices. Don’t misunderstand me: We are open most Saturday mornings, for both well and acute care, and we have a few 5 p.m. well exams each week, but we’ve consciously made the choice to close Sundays, most holidays, and after 6 p.m."

Didomenico McCallister went on to write that as long as proper communication between the RBC, the patient, and the patient's primary physician is followed, she sees very few drawbacks when it comes to RBCs providing treatment for common illnesses. Still, she said regulations need to ensure that such clinics aren't using their influence to encourage patients to purchase unnecessary antibiotics.

As more RBCs crop up across the country, the debate regarding whether they are appropriate for patient care is heating up.

In fact, earlier this year the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that RBCs are inappropriate places for pediatric care because they fragment healthcare and do not support the medical home.

Where do you stand when it comes to retail-based clinics? Are they ever an appropriate avenue for patient care? If not, why not? If yes, in what circumstances?