Retail clinics less likely to be located in underserved communities

May 25, 2009

Despite reports indicating that placement of retail clinics are determined by physician shortages and higher uninsured populations, these clinics appear to be located in more advantaged neighborhoods, according to a report in the May 25 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Retail clinics are medical clinics located within larger retail outlets that are usually staffed by nurse practitioners and supervised by an off-site physician," according to background information in the article. Retail clinics usually focus on urgent care and routine preventive services, such as immunizations. These facilities tend to be open on nights and weekends, usually provide service without appointments and tend to have lower prices than those charged by primary care physicians or emergency departments.

Craig Evan Pollack, M.D., M.H.S. and Katrina Armstrong, M.D., M.S.C.E., of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, mapped locations of retail clinics as of July 2008 and linked them to the 2000 U.S. Census and 2008 Health Resources and Services Administration data to determine if the clinics are typically located in areas with higher medical need.

"A total of 930 retail clinics were geocoded to the continental United States. Eighteen states (37 percent) had no retail clinics, and 17 states (35 percent) had 25 or more clinics," the authors write. Five states had more than 50 clinics including Florida (112), California (90), Texas (85), Illinois (58) and Georgia (56). Retail clinics were located in 908 census tracts within 247 counties. Ninety-six percent of counties with retail clinics were classified as metropolitan areas.

"Counties with retail clinics had lower rates of uninsured individuals (12.1 percent vs. 13.3 percent)," the authors write. "Compared with census tracts without retail clinics, those tracts with retail clinics had a lower percentage of black and Hispanic individuals, fewer rental units and lower rates of poverty. In addition, the census tracts had residents with higher median incomes and higher rates of home ownership."

"If retail clinics are determined to be a valuable and effective source of care, rethinking the distribution of these clinics may be an important avenue for improving their potential societal benefit," the authors conclude. "With nearly a third of chain stores located in medically underserved areas, the future expansion of retail clinics into existing stores could potentially improve access for underserved populations."

More information: Arch Intern Med. 2009;169[10]:945-949.

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals (news : web)

Explore further: German Merck to buy St. Louis-based Sigma-Aldrich

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Minority health-care clinics separate but unequal

Feb 09, 2009

A study published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine may shed new light on why minority Americans have poorer health outcomes from chronic conditions such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

NHS trust sending spies into clinics

Oct 25, 2007

A British health trust is sending fake patients into outpatient clinics to report back with reviews of staff and cleaning standards.

Testing times: Detecting HIV in resource-limited settings

Nov 29, 2007

Integrating HIV testing programmes into primary medical care can help achieve early diagnosis of HIV infection, even in relatively poor areas, research published in the online open access journal AIDS Research and Therapy ...

Police raid Nevada clinics

Mar 12, 2008

Authorities investigating a hepatitis outbreak have seized patient records from six southern Nevada medical offices.

For psychiatric services, wait for the beep

Feb 25, 2009

Two-thirds of patients referred for psychiatric services following an emergency room visit are likely to reach only an answering machine when they call for help, compared to about 20 percent of patients calling medical clinics ...

Recommended for you

German Merck to buy St. Louis-based Sigma-Aldrich

15 hours ago

German drug company Merck says it has agreed to buy St. Louis-based chemical firm Sigma-Aldrich Corp. for $17 billion in a deal Merck says will strengthen its business in chemicals and laboratory equipment.

The human race evolved to be fair for selfish reasons

Sep 19, 2014

"Make sure you play fairly," often say parents to their kids. In fact, children do not need encouragement to be fair, it is a unique feature of human social life, which emerges in childhood. When given the o ...

User comments : 0