Retail medical clinics provide similar quality health services at lower costs than physician offices, urgent-care centers or emergency rooms, according to a study of retail clinics in Minnesota.
Retail sites give comparable care for less: study
The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, compared the care received by 2,100 insured patients treated at retail clinics in 2005 and 2006 in Minnesota and patients treated at traditional care centers. The patients had middle-ear infections, sore throats and urinary tract infections, and the quality of care was assessed on 14 standard quality measures, using insurance claims data.
Quality scores were equal or higher for retail clinics, while the costs were 30% to 40% lower than physician offices and urgent-care centers, and 80% lower than hospital ERs, according to the study, conducted by researchers at RAND Corp. and funded by the California HealthCare Foundation.
“These findings provide more evidence that retail clinics are an innovative new way of delivering healthcare,” said lead author Ateev Mehrotra, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a RAND researcher. A summary of the report is available here. Full access to the report requires subscription or payment.
There are nearly 1,000 retail clinics nationwide and about one-third of urban residents live within a 10-minute drive of one, according to a companion report also by RAND.
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