Retail Clinics Offer Accessibility to Patients
October 21, 2015
Healthcare professionals are noticing that retail clinics are offering patients convenient and low-cost primary healthcare. The convenience and accessibility of retail clinics, according to a report by consulting firm Manatt Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, can help build a culture of health in the US.
Americans visit retail clinics more than 10 million times a year, mainly because visiting retail clinics for minor issues is more convenient than visiting a doctor’s office. Some doctor’s offices have long waiting lists, so it’s easier for patients to visit a retail clinic for something minor like a seasonal flu shot or a vaccination. Up to 90% of patients at retail clinics just walk in without an appointment.
Benefits of Retail Clinics
After the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, millions of uninsured Americans received healthcare coverage, and healthcare facilities struggled to support the new influx of covered patients. Retail clinics were able to provide additional access points to patients who needed to see a healthcare professional for basic primary and preventative care, the Manatt report found.
Retail clinics are also a great convenience for patients who are travelling, and can’t get to their primary care physician. Because retail clinics accept most insurances, it’s easy for someone who’s traveling to visit one.
Another benefit of retail clinics that patients have seen is that they typically cost one-third of the price of an outpatient setting. The study reported that up to 27% of visits to hospital emergency departments “could be handled appropriately at retail clinics and urgent care centers, offering cost savings of $4.4 billion per year.” People who are uninsured can also visit retail clinics for low-cost basic healthcare.
With low costs, people are more likely to go to a retail clinic for preventative healthcare. The accessibility of retail clinics can help patients prevent and manage issues before they become too serious and costly. According to the study, “the cost of providing care and treating patients has been found to be lower at retail clinics when compared to other settings.”
There are over 1,800 retail clinics in the US – most of them run by drugstore chains like CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens. The first retail clinic opened in 2000, and now the number is predicted to increase to 3,000 by 2016. As retail clinics become more accessible, they should be prepared to take on more patients.
How Clinics Can Keep Lines Moving
One way to keep lines short at retail clinics is by minimizing the amount of forms patients have to fill out. Instead of having patients write down all of their personal information, retail clinics should use card scanners that immediately take in information through the patient’s ID.
Retail clinics should also invest in card scanners that can read insurance information, since patients often have trouble filling out insurance forms. By digitally gathering information from insurance cards, retail clinics can reduce the amount of claims that go unpaid due to errors on forms. With automatic information gathering, retail clinics can limit the amount of time patients spend filling out forms, and provide more convenience.