Retail Clinics Expand: Almost Everybody is Happy
LA TIMES -- Amid the economic downturn and slow growth for retail and outpatient medical care services, pharmacy giants Walgreen and CVS are rolling out new specialized services at their in-store clinics, going beyond treatment of routine maladies. Launched over the last four years to care for such simple ailments as ear and sinus infections, strep throat or pinkeye, retail clinic operators now are training nurses to do specialized injections for such chronic conditions as osteoporosis and asthma.
Retail clinics not only market themselves as a convenience, they also can be less expensive, providing a competitive threat to primary-care doctors and even specialists. Costs for services for those paying out of pocket at retail clinics generally run $55 to $75 compared with $100 or more for a visit to a primary-care physician.
Typically staffed by advanced-degree nurses known as practitioners, most of the nation's more than 1,100 retail health clinics are open seven days a week, with no appointment needed. The model has been greeted by health insurers, employers and consumer groups as one way to address the rising number of uninsured Americans, estimated at more than 46 million.
MP: There's only one group who is apparently not so happy about the expansion of retail clinics and the services they offer. Can you guess who? (Hint: Check the 8th paragraph of the story.)