The idea behind minute clinics sounds great. Customers who are shopping at the pharmacy or in grocery stores can make a quick stop and receive preventative care for their smaller and less serious ailments.
Forgot about your Flu shot? No problem, just swing by the minute clinic and you’re set for the next year.
Originally it was believed that the quick stop in-store clinic model would save the healthcare industry money. Instead, the average cost per patient has increased by $14.
A study published in the journal Health Affairs suggests that walk-in clinics are used by a majority of people with mild symptoms, like sore throats or coughs, symptoms that typically go away without treatment.
When the cost of preventive care and the cost of patients substituting regular doctor’s visits are added up there is a $14 per year increase in spending per patient.
There are now more than 2,000 retail clinics in operation and on some level they are working. The study found that 42% of clinic customers substituted it for services they would otherwise go to a primary care doctor or emergency room for.
However, 58% of people frequent the clinics for ailments that might not have needed treatment, leading to an increase in overall spending.
Researchers have suggested that it may be time to investigate what happens when minute clinics start to replace doctors for more chronic conditions, like diabetes.