Retail clinics satisfy the need for convenient, quality healthcare. The number of retail clinics is quickly growing in the United States. The first one opened in Minnesota in 2000. Now more than 2,100 clinics are open as of the beginning of 2015 with more than 2,700 clinics projected to be open by 2019.
Most retail clinics are located in drug stores or grocery stores. CVS has the most retail clinics with over 1,000 clinics, and Walgreens has the second most with over 500 clinics. According to a report published by Kalorama Information, the majority of people visit retail clinics for a flu vaccination or to be treated for the cold or flu. Patients also visit for other basic treatments, such as physicals and earaches. However, most people do not see clinic visits as replacements for visits to their regular doctor.
Some retail clinics accept appointments, but most patients are walk-ins. They may be seen by a nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant or sometimes even an M.D. It is not necessary for patients to bring their medical records, but it is a good idea to bring in their current medications or have a list of them to share with the healthcare provider.
Retail clinics are able to keep their costs down due to their focused services and smaller spaces compared to those of regular physicians’ offices. Retail clinics often have lower costs than ERs and urgent care clinics and accept most health insurance plans, Medicaid and Medicare. Patients can also pay out-of-pocket and that cost is dependent on the clinical service performed.
Retail clinics generally have more availability for appointments than standard doctors. Most clinics are open after work hours and on the weekends. However, for more serious illnesses, it is recommended that patients schedule an appointment with their regular doctor.
Medical waste mailback systems, which are ordered on an as-needed basis and do not take up much space, are the most efficient method for medical waste disposal. Since every used syringe/needle needs to be disposed of in a sharps container, the mailback systems make this collection and disposal process very cost-effective and convenient for the healthcare provider. Biohazardous spill kits used to clean up spills, such as blood and vomit, are also available in a mailback system, so the cleaned-up spill is disposed of right away.
With healthcare needs continuing to expand as the population ages, retail clinics are another avenue for every patient to be treated by a qualified healthcare provider.