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Akron Univ. School of Law

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Health Clinics: Not Yet Super Popular

The Wall Street Journal Health Blog reports on the use of retail health clinics.  It states,

The public’s still pretty wary of the retail clinics cropping up in Wal-Marts and drugstores around the country. But there are enough people comfortable with the clinics to fuel their continued spread. At least, that’s the conclusion we drew from reading the results of a survey to be published this week by Deloitte’s Center for Health Solutions, and talking with Paul Keckley, who runs the center.

In an online survey that drew roughly 3,000 responses, about 33% of people didn’t like the idea of retail clinics much at all. On a scale of one to 10, with one being “not at all comfortable” and 10 being “completely comfortable,” this group of doubters put themselves at one, two or three. Only 16%, on the other hand, put themselves at eight, nine or 10.

The clinics are typically staffed by nurse practitioners or physicians assistants. But that’s a big problem for a sizable chunk of the public that’s reluctant to be treated by anyone other than a doctor, even for the sorts of minor complaints (sore throats, flu shots) handled by the clinics, Keckley said.

But the 16% who are comfortable going to the clinics will be enough to keep the business model going, Keckley said. And the number of people who are comfortable going to a retail clinic is likely to grow as the clinics figure out how to make the business work. . . .

That particular detail reminded us of Wal-Mart’s recent re-positioning of the retail clinics in its stores. A few weeks after a company suddenly closed retail clinics it was operating in 23 Wal-Mart stores, Wal-Mart said it would be opening its own brand of retail clinics — and that they’d be affiliated with local hospitals and health systems.

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