New report emphasizes importance of retail clinics, projects growth

WASHINGTON A recent report by the National Center for Policy Analysis, a nonprofit public policy research organization, underscored the importance of retail-based health clinics and stated that the number of clinics is likely to grow to 3,200 by 2014.

"The growth of the Internet, high-speed telecommunications networks and electronic medical records have made it possible for patients to seek care in a variety of clinical settings without losing the continuity of care a primary care provider offers," the report stated. "Healthcare entrepreneurs using these technologies in retail clinics are making medical care increasingly accessible and convenient, while raising quality and reducing costs."

Citing data from consulting firm Deloitte, the NCPA report stated that there are currently 1,100 to 1,200 clinics and the number is likely to grow to 3,200 by 2014.

The problem with today's U.S. healthcare system, the report said: A lack of convenient, low-cost care that often leads to an overuse of emergency rooms.

"Competition from these new clinics may lead traditional physician practices to adopt new technology, and offer extended and more convenient weekend hours," the report stated. "Moreover, low-cost, convenient clinics offer the best solution for improving access to care for the uninsured, individuals without a primary care physician and workers in need of routine care."

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