HealthDay News — According to a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, having retail health clinics near hospitals does not reduce emergency department visits for minor health problems.

RAND Corporation researchers examined 5 years of data from 2053 emergency departments in 23 states. 

The team found that the opening of retail medical clinics did not reduce emergency department visits for 11 non-urgent ailments.


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“One hope for retail clinics was that they might divert patients from making expensive visits to the emergency department for minor conditions such as bronchitis or urinary tract infections. But we found no evidence that this has been happening,” lead author Grant Martsolf, PhD, MPH, a policy researcher with RAND, said in a corporation news release.

“Instead of lowering costs, retail clinics may be substituting for care in other settings, such as primary care practices, or spur some patients to seek care for problems they previously would have treated on their own.”

Reference

Martsolf G, et al. “Association Between The Opening Of Retail Clinics And Low-Acuity Emergency Department Visits”. Annals of Emergency Medicine. 2016. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2016.08.462. [Epub ahead of print]

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