Consumers Value Convenience of Retail Clinics Over Receiving Care from MD By Factor of 2
LA TIMES -- "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 factor 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."
Here's a link to the full study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, and here's an excerpt from the conclusion:
"This study is the first in the United States to quantify the relative importance of and the utility associated with the main attributes of retail clinics. The utility (willingness to pay) associated with receiving same-day care is more than twice the utility associated with receiving care from a physician. Primary care physician practices, especially in competitive markets, are therefore likely to derive greater competitive advantage by addressing patient convenience features (such as same-day scheduling, walk-in hours, and extended hours) than by reducing fees."