Authored by Ken Gross, Ph.D.
A solution to the nation’s skyrocketing health care cost just might be found at a grocery store near you. A study appearing in the recent issue of the American Journal of Managed Care (1) found that medical care initiated at retail clinics is 30-40% less expensive than similar care provided at a physician’s office and 80% less expensive than care provided in an emergency room. Large numbers of consumers are beginning to take advantage of the convenience of having health care services available where they do their grocery shopping. According to the study, retail clinic use has increased 10-fold from 2007 to 2009. The study results showed that proximity to a retail clinic was the strongest predictor of use. In other words, when it comes to health care, place matters.
As retail clinics continue to grow in popularity, good data is needed in order to make good decisions about strategically locating new retail-based health clinics. This is where PolicyMap can help. On PolicyMap you can not only see the locations of all retail clinics, but also the locations of nurse practitioner-led clinics, federally qualified community health centers, community health centers and hospitals. Taken together these points represent the health care safety net which the Institute of Medicine defines as, “Those providers that organize and deliver a significant level of health care and other related services to uninsured, Medicaid, and other vulnerable patients.” (2) PolicyMap also has the locations of supermarkets across the United States. Combining safety net locations, supermarket locations and demographic information, PolicyMap provides the essential elements for thinking strategically (and spatially) about improving health care access and reducing health care costs across the United States.
For additional information on the rise of retail-based health care centers, we suggest you read a another great study from RAND called “Policy Implications of the use of Retail Clinics” or visit the Convenient Care Association
(1) Ashwood, J.S., Reid, R.O., Setodji, C.M., Weber, E., Gaynor, M., & Mehrotra, A. (2011). Trends in retail clinic use among the commercially insured. The American Journal of Managed Care, 17, e443-e448.
(2) Institute of Medicine. 2000. America’s Health Care Safety Net: Intact but Endangered. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, p.3-4