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Retail Clinics Have Little Effect on Visits to Nearby ED

Written by Tamara Rosin | Beckers Healthcare

Although retail clinics are often touted as a means to reduce visits to the emergency department, retail clinics that opened near EDs had a minimal effect on the rates of low-acuity visits to them, according to the results of a study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

An accompanying editorial suggests the primary effect of opening retail clinics is to increase healthcare use, not a substitute for visiting the ED.

"Retail clinics may emerge as a way to satisfy the growing demand for healthcare created by people newly insured under the ACA, but contrary to our expectations, they do not appear to be leading to meaningful reductions in low-acuity emergency department visits," said lead study author Grant Martsolf, PhD, RN, of the RAND Corporation in Pittsburgh. "Although the growth in retail clinics has been significant in recent years, the only decrease in low-acuity visits to emergency departments was seen among patients with private insurance, and that decrease was very small."

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