Retail Clinics Don't Reduce ER Use for Low-Acuity Conditions

By: Guest Author | Posted on: Nov 17, 2016

This article was originally published on, by Maria Castellucci. View the original article by clicking here

Emergency Room Retail Clinics Walk-in Clinics Urgent Care Medicare Medicade
Some researchers and policymakers had hoped the surge of retail clinics across the country would reduce visits to the emergency department. A new study finds that hasn't been the case. 

The report, published Monday in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, found ERs in close proximity to retail clinics didn't experience a reduction of visits from patients with low-acuity illnesses like influenza, urinary tract infections and ear aches.  

The study, conducted by researchers at Rand Corp., was the first to explore the association between the opening of retail clinics and admissions to the ER. 

About 13.7% of all emergency department visits are for low-acuity conditions, the study notes. 

Some healthcare experts have argued that retail clinics could potentially reduce ER visits because they can help patients with low-acuity ailments. Retail clinics are typically staffed by nurse practitioners, don't require an appointment and wait times are usually short. The clinics also accept most types of private insurance and Medicare, the authors write. 

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