Patient visits to clinics located in pharmacies, grocery stores, and other retail locations quadrupled between 2007 and 2009, according to the results of a study published in the August 2012 edition of Health Affairs. The study, carried out by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, was based on data on retail clinic visits from MinuteClinic, TakeCare, and LittleClinic, which combined operate 81% of retail clinics in the United States.
The researchers found that the number of retail clinic visits increased from 1.48 million in 2007 to 5.97 million in 2009. Compared with retail clinic patients in 2000-2006, those in 2007-2009 were more likely to be 65 years or older (14.7% compared with 7.5%). In addition, preventive care such as vaccination was a much larger component of retail clinic care in 2007-2009 compared with 2000-2006 (47.5% compared with 21.8%). Finally, 44.4% of all retail clinic visits in 2007-2009 took place on weekends or outside normal physician office hours during the week.
The researchers note that despite the dramatic growth in visits to retail clinics, they still make up a small portion of overall outpatient visits, which include 117 million emergency department visits and 577 million physician office visits per year. The researchers also note that their study period ended before 2010, when retail clinics began to focus on treating chronic disease.