Dec. 15, 2008
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The number of retail clinics has grown rapidly in recent years, from about 60 retail clinics in 18 states at the beginning of 2006 to more than 900 in 30 states by the end of 2007.
As of 2007, 2.3 percent of American families, or nearly 3.4 million families,
had ever used a retail clinic, according to findings from HSCs 2007 Health
Tracking Household Survey, a nationally representative survey with information
on about 18,000 people in 9,400 families. The survey had a 43 percent response
Of the families reporting they had ever used a retail clinic, about half reported visiting a retail clinic in the prior 12 months before the survey interview, while the other half reported they had visited a retail clinic during an earlier period.
The study found that families that reported not getting or delaying needed medical care at some point in the previous 12 months were almost 2.5 times as likely to have used a retail clinic as families without such access problems (1.9% vs. 0.8%). Also, younger families-those with a family respondent aged 18-34-were more than twice as likely as older families-those with a family respondent aged 50-64-to have used a retail clinic.
"While overall use of retail clinics remains modest, families with unmet medical needs tend to use the clinics more than the rest of the population," said Ha T. Tu, M.P.A., an HSC senior researcher and coauthor of the study with Genna R. Cohen, an HSC health research assistant.
"These findings suggest that retail health clinics have the potential to play a role in improving health care delivery, especially primary care," said Commonwealth Fund Vice President Anne-Marie Audet, M.D.
The studys findings are detailed in a new Commonwealth Fund Issue BriefChecking Up on Retail-Based Health Clinics: Is the Boom Ending?available online at http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/publications_show.htm?doc_id=730365
Other key findings include:
The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation working to promote a high performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for societys most vulnerable. The Fund carries out this mandate by supporting independent research on health care issues and making grants to improve health care practice and policy.
The Center for Studying Health System Change is a nonpartisan policy research organization committed to providing objective and timely research on the nations changing health system to help inform policy makers and contribute to better health care policy. HSC, based in Washington, D.C., is funded principally by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is affiliated with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.