News: Most patients who visit retail clinics don't have primary care physicians

October 3, 2008

Just 39 percent of patients at retail clinics said they had a primary care physician, according to a study by the RAND Corp.

Retail medical clinics continue to gain popularity (see "A convenient truth," in the September 19 issue of Medical Economics). A study by the RAND Corp. shows they are particularly attractive to consumers who don't have a regular primary care doctor. Researchers analyzed details of more than 1.3 million visits to retail clinics from 2000 to 2007. Just 39 percent of the patients at retail clinics said they had a primary care physician, while 80 percent of those surveyed said they have a personal doctor. "These clinics appear to attract patients who are not routine users of the current health-care system," says Ateev Mehrotra, MD, a researcher at RAND and lead author of the study. "For these patients, the convenience offered by retail clinics may be more important than the continuity provided by a personal physician."