Convenient care clinics – walk-in clinics that are located in places like drugstores and grocery stores – can be a great option if you need to receive treatment for minor illnesses or preventative health care. With clinics popping up at retailers across the country, such as Walgreens, CVS and Target, you may be wondering if they are worth visiting.
Services offered by retail health clinics
According to the Washington Post, retail walk-in clinics treat a variety of non-life-threatening but frequent illnesses, including bronchitis, mononucleosis, sinus infections and minor injuries.
Retail clinics can be a particularly great resource for seniors. The month of September is Senior Vaccination Month at the CVS Minute Clinic. Flu, pneumonia and shingles vaccinations, among many others, are available throughout the year.
While minor illnesses and vaccinations make up a large chunk of treatments currently provided by these clinics, the Institute for HealthCare Consumerism says that we should expect a wider breadth of health services from retail health providers in the near future. They noted that “Walgreens announced it was expanding the scope of services provided at its retail clinics to include assessment, treatment and management for chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma and others, as well as additional preventive health services.”
Medical care, made more convenient
While your doctor’s office may be open from 8-5, medical care is often needed outside of regular working hours. Retail clinics operate for longer hours than traditional doctors’ offices, with an average of 12 hours a day during the week and eight hours a day on the weekend. Holly McDonald, CVS Caremark/MinuteClinic state practice manager, Georgia, says that half of the patients that come to the CVS Minute Clinic when their traditional physician office is not open.
In addition to expanded hours, clinic locations are convenient. A third of the population lives within 10 miles of a retail clinic, putting health care closer to many who may not be close to a standalone physician’s office.
When should you visit your regular physician or an emergency room?
While these convenient care clinics can be a great resource for many common ailments, it’s important to remember that they are not always the most appropriate provider of care if you are suffering from certain life-threatening or complex symptoms. For example, if you are suffering from chest pains, you should visit an emergency room for proper care.
More complex medical issues – including prolonged symptoms that have yet to receive a diagnosis – may be more appropriate for your traditional doctor, who has a more in-depth knowledge of your medical background and a wider breadth of available resources in-office.
Have you visited a health clinic within your local pharmacy, grocery store or big box retailer? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!