What Is Convenient Care?

Convenient care clinics (CCCs) are a category of walk-in clinic located in retail stores, supermarkets and pharmacies that treat uncomplicated minor illnesses and provide preventative health care services. They are sometimes called “retail clinics,” “retail-based clinics,” “walk-in medical clinics,” or “nurse-in-a-box.” CCCs are usually staffed by nurse practitioners (NPs) or physician assistants (PAs) and do not necessarily have a doctor physically available onsite.[1] Some CCCs, however, are staffed by physicians.

Currently, there are over 1,450 CCCs located throughout the United States.[2] Most CCCs are open seven days a week – twelve hours a day during the workweek and eight hours a day on the weekend.[3] Because CCCs are such a new development, only a small percentage of Americans have received health care in a CCC setting.[4] It is estimated, however, that the number of CCCs will increase dramatically in the near future.[5]
The 2008 Survey of Health Care Consumers,[6] from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, finds the appetite for retail medical clinics is real, and growing, and the potential for future success substantial. The following statistics demonstrate the increase in consumer interest in retail clinics.

  • More than 1 in 3 consumers surveyed are receptive to the idea of using retail clinics
  • 1 in 6 already have
  • Interest in retail clinics is especially high among “baby boomers“, with nearly 38 percent saying they would use a retail clinic
  • By generation, seniors are the least likely and “millennials” are the most likely to use a retail clinic

The survey says that these clinics are particularly popular among those who are identified as:

  • Being in better-than-average health
  • More distrustful of hospitals and doctors
  • More likely to be suspicious of the medications that hospitals and doctors prescribe

A major driver of the walk-in clinic growth trend is the focus on cost. As more patients with higher deductibles seek out care options, the reduced cost of retail settings is a viable option for routine care. For example, according to one analysis, the typical cost of diagnosing an earache was $59 at a retail or walk-in provider, $95 in doctor’s office, $135 at urgent care, $184 in an emergency room.[7]

Services Typically Provided

Most CCCs treat adults and children over the age of 18 months. CCCs treat common family illnesses, such as:

Some CCCs provide physical therapy with a specialist.

CCCs also provide preventative care, including health screenings, vaccinations, and physical exams. They may serve as sample collection points for blood, urine and feces for laboratory tests, which are then sent to external labs.

By definition, CCCs offer a more narrow range of services (usually limited to 25 – 30 of the most common diagnoses) than are offered in traditional primary care offices.[8] This limited scope of services is seen in both nurse practitioner and physician-staffed CCCs, and is an integral part of the CCC model.[9]




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