Demand for retail medical clinics is expanding recently. Newly insured people as a consequence of Obamacare make it possible. Currently, there are about 6000 such locations throughout the country as of 2012 in pharmacy/drug store and supermarket chain, operated by CVS, Walgreen, Kroger, and Target. Although some physician groups reject the existence of this chain, I think this is a good trend and good also for the patients.
As long as they only treat non-chronic disease and act as complement to the service of physician, as it is like now, the existence of these services is importance to reduce the workload of primary health service. The flue, cough, blood-pressure measurement, vaccines, diabetes screening and other no chronic disease are among cases treated by nurse practitioners or physician assistances in retail clinics. There is no reason that they will replace traditional primary-care service as long as it is set up a set of regulations to limit services that they can provide. Moreover, as it is said by Ateev Mehrotra, an associate professor of health-care policy at Harvard Medical School, the typical patient at a retail clinic is a young adult (between 18-44), without a regular primary-care physician. That statement confirms the data of MinuteClinic, the CVS division, the largest player in this service that half of its patients, according to their report, do not have primary-physician. This fact proves that the existence of retail clinics is merely a supplement to the traditional clinics and they will widen medical service to those who have no access to primary-physician. At least, having access to retail clinics is better than just consuming over the counter medicine without prescription.
For patients, the existence of this alternative means more convenience. It is common that such clinics open seven days a week with evening service. Unlike ordinary physician services or primary care clinics that often have long waiting queue to make appointments, retail medical clinics do not require patients to make such appointments. Weekend and evening services also mean that no need for them to break from work. Thus, it is plausible if primary consumers of retail clinics are young adults that are more likely hesitant to leave work in order to visit traditional clinics. In this regard, this alternative will give convenience to them and thus will improve health of people in general.
One thing needed to be addressed is to make sure that the existence of this retail clinic chain will not replace traditional clinics by restricting services the retail clinic can provide including chronic and acute condition. Then, restricting retail clinics to provide service to baby and children is also important since their health is more vulnerable and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, taking kids to retail clinics instead of primary care pediatricians fragments care, since the kids do not always see by the same medical provider. I believe that existence of such retail services will benefit society in general if it is handled properly.