The healthcare industry has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years and one of these areas of growth has been the proliferation of retail care sites. Patients now have the option to receive care for minor ailments in the same place that they grocery shop or buy home goods. Let’s take a look at these retail clinics and a few of the ways their existence impacts the patient experience.
What is retail care?
Retail health clinics operate out of grocery stores, pharmacies, and “big box” stores, and provide care for simple, acute illnesses, usually by a nurse practitioner. Patients are often attracted to these care sites by the extended evening and weekend hours, shorter wait times, and walk-in availability. Due to these characteristics, these clinics often bridge the gap between primary care and an emergency room at times when primary care would otherwise be unavailable.
While retail clinics are most well-known for their provision of care for minor illnesses and injuries, they also provide vaccines and other preventive care. This is particularly attractive to young adults without a PCP, the group shown by research to be the most frequent patients of these care sites. Additionally, pricing at retail clinics is typically transparent and fixed, making these sites attractive for the uninsured and underinsured.
3 Ways Retail Care Impacts the Patient Experience
The existence of these retail clinics is impacting patient experience, not only within the retail care walls, but also in healthcare in general. Here are three of these impacts.
- Retail care sites create more options for patients to receive care. Individuals who don’t have a PCP traditionally only had the option of going to the emergency room for care when the need arose. This put an additional strain on ERs that impacted other patients with true emergencies. With retail care sites, these individuals have another option for an appropriate place to be seen when needed. Additionally, patients without insurance who previously would forego care assuming it was unaffordable, can view the transparent price listing for a retail care site and get the care they need, understanding their financial responsibility ahead of time.
- Retail care sites can make patients feel more comfortable. Many individuals suffer from anxiety related to healthcare settings, often due to things like past experience and socio-economic factors. The location of these retail clinics, however, is a familiar place that individuals visit regularly such as grocery stores, big box stores, and pharmacies. This can ease some of that anxiety that often surrounds medical anxieties and help patients to feel more comfortable while seeking care.
- Retail care sites can drive innovation in traditional medical practices. As patients become more accustomed to features such as walk-in availability, extended hours, and fixed, transparent pricing, medical practices will often begin to make changes in line with these offering to improve patient satisfaction and prevent patient attrition. This, then, creates a positive experience for all patients, regardless of where they’re being served.
While retail care clinics are certainly disruptors in the healthcare industry, this doesn’t have to be seen as a negative impact. The ability for patients to receive the care they need is always a positive, and the clinics can be a fantastic resource for more traditional care sites to learn what patients are looking for so that they can determine how they can provide that same level of service.
At Henry Schein SolutionsHub, we know how important it is for practices to prioritize the patient experience in our current healthcare landscape, and this is why we work diligently to find best-in-class solutions that can help our clients to provide what patients are looking for when it comes to their care.