The Impact of Retail Clinics on Overall Utilization of Care

The researchers examined the impact of retail health clinics on health care utilization and costs. Specifically, they assessed whether the entry of retail health clinics into a community is associated with a change in the overall utilization of retail-clinic sensitive conditions—eight simple acute care conditions that make up the majority of retail health clinic visits—and estimated the impact on costs of the entry of retail clinics. The researchers hypothesized that retail health clinic utilization could substitute for emergency department and physician office utilization, thus decreasing costs, or encourage utilization by those who would otherwise stay at home, thus increasing costs. The objective of this study was to shed light on the potential benefits and drawbacks of policies that encourage retail clinic use.