COMMENTARY

Patient Evaluation of Retail Clinic Care

Marilyn W. Edmunds, PhD, CRNP; Laurie Scudder, MS, NP

Disclosures

November 17, 2009

Patient Satisfaction With Retail Health Clinic Care

Hunter LP, Weber CE, Morreale AP, Wall JH
J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2009;21:565-570

Study Summary

The first in-store medical convenient care clinic (retail health clinic) was opened in the metropolitan St. Paul/Minneapolis area in 2000. Since that time, the number of companies providing this new form of quick, inexpensive, and convenient healthcare has rapidly increased.

Usually staffed by nurse practitioners (NPs), the clinics do not claim to provide comprehensive primary care but offer a limited menu of nonemergent screening and routine treatment services. Common conditions that are treated include allergic reactions, upper respiratory infections, rhinitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, strep throat, otitis media, influenza, insect bites, urinary tract infections, and conjunctivitis. Patients use the clinics for routine immunization; pregnancy testing; school, sports, or work-related physical examinations; and preventive health screening for diabetes, tuberculosis, and hypertension. The healthcare providers use their clinical judgment to diagnose common acute health problems, order diagnostic tests, prescribe medications, and refer patients needing additional care.

The purpose of this study was to analyze data from patients who used 2 Arizona retail-based MediMin clinics. The survey was administered to evaluate patient satisfaction with care and patient patterns and preferences. A questionnaire was designed to answer: (1) how did the patient learn about the clinic and why was the clinic selected? (2) how long was the wait prior to being seen? (3) was the patient satisfied? and (4) would the patient return in the future? Additionally, the investigators asked whether the patient routinely shopped at the location and whether the patient intended to shop for groceries that day. Demographic data were analyzed to compare variations in survey responses on the basis of language preference (the language chosen for responses to the patient satisfaction survey, either English or Spanish) and variations in responses from patients at different store locations that might reflect differences in socioeconomic status.

The descriptive design used an anonymous, voluntary, self-report sample survey to gather data. The survey consisted of 8 multiple choice questions and 1 open-ended question and was given to patients at the completion of their visits from May 2006 through June 2007. A survey was distributed to every patient who received care at either clinic, and patients were asked to complete and return the survey prior to leaving the clinic or to mail the survey.

Findings:

  • 62% of the respondents indicated that they learned about the MediMin clinics either from a sign at the store or from a friend.

  • Patients chose to obtain healthcare at a MediMin clinic because of convenient location, no appointment necessary, short waiting times, low cost, and friendly competent care. Only 13% of patients selected MediMin because of the presence of a pharmacy.

  • If they had not come to the clinic, 40% of respondents said they would have waited to see their doctor, 35% said they would have sought care at an urgent care center, 16% would have visited an emergency room, and 12% would not have sought care.

  • 96% of respondents said they did not have to wait at all or waited less time than expected; 67% did not wait at all.

  • 95% of respondents indicated that they were very satisfied or satisfied with the MediMin experience.

  • 67% of those who responded in Spanish indicated that they always shopped at the host store, whereas only 21%-23% of those who responded in English indicated that they always shopped at the host store.

  • 98% of respondents who visited the clinics said they would visit MediMin again for healthcare needs.

The researchers found that clients with varied incomes and different ethnicities valued the same attributes of retail health clinic care that are valued in other research studies on this topic: convenient location, no appointment necessary, short wait time, and low cost.

The high degree of patient satisfaction with retail clinic healthcare suggests that this type of entrepreneurial primary healthcare is meeting the needs of individuals. These clinics will likely continue or increase in number. Retail health clinics might be a viable source of employment for NPs.

Viewpoint

Retail health clinics seem to be here to stay. As a "disruptive innovation" (a change in the way something is typically done that is well received and creates new markets), retail clinics survive because they meet the needs of the public. That they are dominated by NP and physician assistant healthcare providers is an added testimony to the effectiveness of this group of providers. For NPs in particular, who see their roles very much as health educators, these clinics allow them to do what they have always done well: teaching, counseling, and advocating. Although other segments of the healthcare professions may try to emulate these clinics, NP-driven clinics in convenient locations seem likely to continue.

Abstract

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