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Retail Health Clinics And The Community: Empowering and Engaging Patients

July 17, 2018 Michael Moore

Retail Health Clinics

Minnesota had the pleasure of having the first retail clinic in 2001, and the retail clinics have gained in popularity since that time. The number of retail clinics in the United States has expanded grown significantly. The number once stood at a few hundred, but now we are in the thousands.

The clinics that are protected by trademark or copyright are mainly owned by a private company. These clinics will also operate by using space in a pharmacy or one of the large retail establishments. Sometimes retail clinics can operate by renting space in a hospital.

Retail health clinics are generally more attractive to a patient than going to a physician's office because the care that is offered is similar to the care of a physician or an urgent care clinic. In addition to the type of care, the costs are lower and the wait times are shorter.  Retail health clinics inside a pharmacy or a retail store can be of significant convenience for many patients, especially the patients who work during the day or the ones who have to take their young children with them.  

Many retail health clinics will be able to set appointments for patients, but the majority of patients will simply walk in. Generally, a patient consultation will take less than 20 minutes. Many retail health clinics will mainly be staffed by nurse practitioners, but many of the clinics will form a partnership with hospitals and physician groups in the community. 

Retail Health Clinics Treatment

Retail health clinics can treat various illnesses and ailments, including the following:

  • the common cold
  • flu
  • eye irritation
  • coughs
  • body pains and aches
  • skin infections
  • minor body cuts
  • vomiting

Many retail health clinics are also authorized to conduct flu shots, physicals for work or school, and lab testing. Retail health clinics generally are not able to treat long-term illnesses and conditions or patients who have been given complex medications. 

End Of The Appointment

After a patient's appointment has ended, the patient will be given a summary of the visit that has just been completed. Providers will also be able to record the patient's visit to an electronic health records(EHR) system for convenient and easy record-keeping. The patient's visit can also be used to share the data with the patient's healthcare provider or physician.

The records can also be shared with the patient's insurance company. If a patient visits a retail health clinic and the patient is not insured, a patient will be able to make a payment with a credit card or cash. However, as mentioned earlier, the prices will be lower than the prices you would expect from a physician's office. 

Retail Health Clinics and The Community

As mentioned above, retail health clinics employ nurse practitioners, in addition to creating relationships with hospitals and providers in the community for a better-connected care. The created relationships will allow the retail health clinic to make referrals for the patients who do not have a primary care provider in the area.

When a retail health clinic refers a patient to a primary care physician, this will encourage patients to become engaged and active in their medical care. Physicians can also refer patients to retail health clinics if they are being bothered with acute care illnesses that are not as serious as others. The created relationships are also improved by the ability to connect and share data through EHR systems. 

Patients who look for care at a retail health clinic over a physician's office make the decision based on convenience and cost. Unfortunately, many patients who are uninsured, underinsured, or have low income will refrain from seeking medical care because they do not have the means to do so. It can sometimes take a few days or a few weeks to schedule appointments. The existence of a retail health clinic can increase the chances that a patient will seek care for illnesses that they would otherwise let ignore and let go untreated. 

If patients do choose to seek care outside their main provider's office, it is important than patient care does not become fractured. EHR systems and community relationships will be more important than ever. 

Contact us today for more information on the use of retail health clinics.

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