Retail Health Has Greater Acceptance

September 7th 2016
Jeannette Y Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP

Retail health care clinicians can be proud that their work is reducing the load at emergency rooms.

Because retail health is the new kid on the block, few studies have been published and little discussion tends to appear in the professional literature. However, retail health clinics received a boost this week by an editorial published in the September/October 2016 issue ofProfessional Case Management.

This essay speaks to the facts that retail health practitioners know well: retail health care is competent and convenient. The author makes the point that retail health, once considered a nontraditional and unproven care delivery method, is now a welcome mainstream entity.

One tidbit buried at the end of the editorial that deserves earlier mention: A change that started when the California Telehealth Advancement Act became law is working its way across the country. It allows health care providers—including retail health providers—to use electronic devices such as smartphones to deliver care.

Using the story of a friend and colleague who became sick during travel, author Wanda Jacob demonstrated how helpful retail health providers are. She emphasized a nurse practitioner's speedy yet cautious assistance for her colleague that did not sacrifice any step in the assessment process.

Jacob also indicated that many health care systems are partnering with retail health systems, and for good reason. Doing so expands the health system’s options for patients at hours previously unavailable, and patients like retail health care.

Acute care provision is a strength for retail health, as exemplified in this narrative. Patients who have acute minor illnesses find care at odd hours, on their lunch breaks, or as they dash to do errands. Some clinics see only certain conditions (state and local law influences scope of practice), and many clinics have partnerships with local physicians and labs so patients who need care beyond what they can provide are referred pronto. Many retail clinics are expanding their portfolios to include chronic care.

In addition, health care executives are realizing that accessible care—something talked about for years, but never really achieved completely—is a retail health clinic’s strong point. Retail health care clinicians can be proud that their work is reducing the load at emergency rooms, which some patients used as usual care in the past (and still do).

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