NEW YORK — Retail-based health clinics not only work closely with local physicians and pediatricians but are also a more convenient option for parents with sick children rather than the alternative, which is often spending hours in the emergency room or waiting for an appointment with their doctor. That’s a key message that the Convenient Care Association is looking to convey in response to news that the American Academy of Pediatrics is advising parents against using retail-based health clinics.
In an updated policy statement published in the March 2014 Pediatrics, the AAP emphasizes that retail-based clinics are an inappropriate source of primary care for children because they fragment children’s health care and do not support the medical home.
The policy statement, “AAP Principles Concerning Retail-Based Clinics” released online Feb. 24, updates the Academy’s 2006 policy statement, which expressed opposition to the use of retail-based clinics.
“The AAP recognizes that convenience and access to care will continue to be important drivers of how health care is delivered,” stated James Laughlin, lead author of the policy statement. “However, the expertise of the pediatrician and the medical home should continue to be recognized as the standard for care of children, and we encourage all AAP members to provide accessible hours and locations as part of a medical home.”
Responding to AAP’s policy statement, Tine Hansen-Turton, executive director of the CCA, issued the following statement:
“There are currently more than 1,600 retail-based convenient care clinics in 39 states and the District of Columbia that have served more than 20 million consumers to date including the pediatric population. The clinics offer a quick, affordable alternative for patients with pressing, non-emergency medical needs. Basic primary care is provided to patients aged 18 months through 65+. The clinics offer flexible hours of operation, with most of them open seven days a week-up to 12 hours a day during the workweek and up to eight hours on Saturday and Sunday, including most holidays. They are a more convenient option for parents with sick children rather than the alternative, which is often waiting for an appointment while the child is sick or spending hours in a high-cost emergency room for a minor pediatric complaint.
Retail clinics works closely with local physicians and pediatricians. They all use electronic health records (EHR) and actively encourage the sharing of visit records with a patients' family physicians and pediatricians in order to facilitate continuity of care. Additionally, the industry is very focused on quality care and EHRs are also used in clinics to monitor evidence-based practice performance.
In recent years, the number of CCCs and scope of services provided has grown to meet high consumer demand for easy access to high-quality, affordable health care. This is evidenced by the growth rate being highest among hospitals and health systems, and clinic operators have also entered into partnerships with many health systems to further promote continuity of care. Retail clinics are increasingly a valuable part of this nation's healthcare ecosystem (not apart from it), providing easy access to high-quality, affordable care, connecting patients with other providers as necessary, and, increasingly, facilitating care that is being managed by other providers.”