August 16, 2012: Visits to retail clinics increased 403% from 2007 to 2009, and about 44.4% of those visits occurred during hours when physician offices are typically closed, according to a report posted online by Health Affairs.
The report, which includes data from CVS Caremark Corp.-owned MinuteClinic, Walgreens-owned Take Care Health Systems, and Kroger Co.-owned Little Clinic, stated that there were 1.48 million retail clinic visits in 2007, 3.52 million in 2008, and 5.97 million in 2009. The authors, researchers from the Rand Corp. and the University of Pittsburgh, noted that the study does not include patient-visit data from 2010, the year retail clinics made chronic disease management a focus.
“The rapid growth of retail clinics makes it clear that they are meeting patients’ needs,” the researchers concluded. “We believe that the chief drivers are convenience, after-hours accessibility and cost-effectiveness.”
The most popular day for visits during the period studied was Monday, which accounted for 16.4% of all visits, while the least popular days were Saturday and Sunday, accounting for 12.2% and 10.7% of visits. For weekday visits, 28.9% took place during hours when physician offices are typically closed, the report said.
Of the nearly 8.9 million visits between 2007 and 2009, 61.1% were made by female patients and 38.9% by males. Also, only 35.5% of patients said they had a regular primary-care physician, and 29.5% did not have insurance and paid in cash.
The researchers estimated that the average cost of a visit was $78, translating to $460 million in healthcare spending for 2009. The researchers also noted that the number of clinics increased from about 300 at the beginning of 2007 to almost 1,200 by the end of 2010. According to the Convenient Care Association retail-clinic trade group, there are now about 1,400 of these clinics in the U.S. MinuteClinic and Take Care did not respond to requests for more recent patient-visit data.
Source: John & Rusty Report via Choice Admin