Survey shows satisfaction with clinics is still high

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Patient satisfaction with retail-based health clinics remains high, according to the results of a new WSJ.com/Harris Interactive health care study.

As indicated in prior surveys on this topic, those U.S. adults who have used one of the 900-plus retail clinics sprinkled throughout the United States remain pleased with the quality of care (90 percent), cost (86 percent) and staff qualifications (88 percent).

The biggest driver of satisfaction, according to the survey, seems to be convenience, with 73 percent being very satisfied and another 20 percent being somewhat satisfied with the convenience of these clinics.

The results are based on an online survey of 4,937 U.S. adults conducted by Harris Interactive between May 2 and 6 for the Wall Street Journal Online’s Health Industry Edition.

The survey also found that the use of the clinics has remained consistent over the past few years, with 7 percent of U.S. households in 2005, 5 percent in 2007 and 7 percent in 2008 saying they have used a clinic.

Of those patients who use a retail-based clinic, 30 percent said they do not have a primary care provider, the survey found. Furthermore, respondents said they believe the clinics can provide low-cost basic services to people who cannot afford care (78 percent) and to anyone at times when doctors’ offices are closed (81 percent).

The most frequently used services: vaccinations (40 percent) and treatments for a common medical condition like an ear infection or cold (39 percent). Use for preventative screening tests and physical exams for sports and school increased slightly this year, the survey found.

Health insurance plans are increasingly covering the services of such clinics as evidenced by the survey results. The percent of adults whose health insurance covered some or all of the costs of at the clinic went from 42 percent in 2007 to 62 percent in 2008.

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