A new joint poll by Harris Interactive and Healthday has suggested that the popularity of "walk-in" medical clinics located in pharmacies, superstores and workplaces nationwide is increasing at a quick pace.
Just more than a quarter (27%) of all adults surveyed said they have used either walk-in retail clinics (19%) or work-based clinics (11 %) to get medical care in the past two years. That's up from just 7 percent in 2008. "This survey shows a very large increase in the numbers of people using retail clinics over the last few years since earlier surveys, which used slightly different questions," said Harris Poll Chairman Humphrey Taylor.
Younger adults were more likely to have used such a facility compared with older adults. Among the respondents, 40 percent of adults aged 25 to 29 had used a retail or work-based clinic, versus only 15 percent of adults aged 65 and older.
This is not surprising, given that older adults tend to have more chronic health problems and such "drop-in" clinics are geared more for acute services, said Kathleen Jaeger, a registered pharmacist and senior vice president of pharmacy care and patient advocacy at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
Also contributing to the growth is a continuing shortage of primary care physicians, added Jaeger.
The survey found that people were most likely to visit either a retail or work-based clinic for run-of-the-mill complaints such as colds or flu-like symptoms, minor cuts and wounds, and for routine needs such as flu shots, prescriptions and to check blood pressure or cholesterol.
Fewer respondents indicated willingness to use these clinics for potentially more serious concerns.
Convenience was key to consumers opting for retail clinic care. The most frequent reasons cited for using either a retail or work-based clinic was that the clinics didn't require an appointment, had a convenient location, involved short waiting times, had accessible hours, and were affordable and/or accepting of the person's particular insurance.
The poll included 3,036 U.S adults over age 18 surveyed online between Dec. 7-11, 2012 by Harris Interactive, one of the world's leading custom market research firms. HealthDay is a leading producer and syndicator of health news.