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Why people like retail health clinics

March 8, 2010 |  2:00 pm

Given their druthers, people would rather see their own primary-care doctor in his or her office, receive care on the same day they call for the appointment and pay less than is standard. OK. Sounds reasonable. However, given that this situation does not exist in the real world, consumers are apt to use retail-based health clinics if they can save time and money.

In a survey, people were asked how they felt about various forms of medical care for a urinary tract infection or for influenza. While people preferred traditional, office-based care, they would opt to see a nurse-practitioner at a retail clinic if they could save at least $31.42. They would wait one day or more for an appointment if they would save at least $82.12.

The researchers concluded that the appointment wait period is the most important determining factors in an individual's choice on where to seek care for minor health problems such as influenza. Primary-care doctors who fear their business will be undercut by the growing popularity of retail health clinics may want to offer more same-day appointments and walk-in hours.

Maybe those horrid waiting-room waits of 30 minutes or longer will become a thing of the past.

The study was published Monday in the Annals of Family Medicine.

-- Shari Roan