KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Retail Clinics Provide Quality Routine Care For Less

Walk-in retail clinics provide good routine care for less, according to a new study. The Washington Post reports: "Walk-in medical clinics run by CVS, Wal-Mart and other retailers provide care for routine illnesses that is as good as, and costs less than, similar care offered in doctors' offices, hospital emergency rooms and urgent care centers, according to a new Rand Corp. study. The cost savings over emergency rooms, in particular, was quite dramatic."

"Physicians groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have raised concerns about the quality of care in the retail clinics, particularly about whether they over-prescribe medications since many of them are owned by pharmacy chains and whether they do adequate follow-up. But the Rand study found no major differences in these areas between the clinics and the other medical sites surveyed. The study, was published this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine. ... [and] examined the cases of 2,100 patients who from 2005 to 2006 were treated for routine illnesses -- ear infections, sore throats or urinary tract infections -- and compared them to patients treated for similar problems at doctors' offices, ERs and urgent care centers" (Shapiro, 9/15).

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