Retail clinic visits soar, especially after hours

Study finds that women utilize retail clinics more so than men

There were nearly 6 million visits to retail clinics in 2009—up from 1.5 million in 2007—and nearly half of those visits took place on nights or weekends, when doctors' offices are usually closed, researchers report in Health Affairs.

Researchers at the RAND Corporation and the University of Pittsburgh collected data from CVS Caremark Corp.'s Minute Clinic, Walgreens' Take Care Health Systems, and Kroger Co.'s Little Clinic, which represent 81% of the nations' retail clinics.

The study found that patients utilized retail clinics more on weekdays than on weekends, and that 28.9% of all weekday visits occurred during hours when physician offices are typically closed. Furthermore, in all of the 8.9 million visits between 2007 and 2009, researchers found that women utilized retail clinics more so than men (61.1% versus 38.9%).

Meanwhile, the number of retail clinics increased from 300 at the beginning of 2007 to 1,200 by the end of 2010. The authors note that their study does not include data on patient visits in 2010, when retail clinics began adding services to address certain chronic diseases as well.

About 36% of patients at retail clinics said that they had a primary care physician, while 29.5% paid in cash because they did not have insurance (Robenzkienks, Modern Healthcare, 8/16 [subscription required]; Mehrotra/Lave, Health Affairs, August 2012 ).

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