In-store health clinics at pharmacy retailers such as CVS (NYSE:CVS), Walgreens (NASDAQ: WAG) and RiteAid (NYSE: RAD) have come under fire by The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for what the organization says are insufficient resources for young children. The AAP says that retail clinics that advertise health services have led to a growing number of parents skipping a trip to their pediatrician's office.
Retailers in the U.S. operate an estimated 6,000 health clinics across the country. In recent years these clinics have seen a growing number of added services. In December, for example, Walgreens announced it was expanding its in-store clinic services to include preventive health care provided by its pharmacists. Retailers have ramped up their clinic services as pharmacies become the most accessible providers of health care amid rising medical and insurance costs that are out of reach for cash-strapped consumers.
While these additions seem like a kind gesture, the AAP is concerned that it will lead to a decreased quality of care, especially for children. The organization also warns of the possible public health problem if patients with infectious diseases like strep throat and measles visit a retail store clinic with little isolation.
The top reasons parents give for choosing a retail clinic over a pediatrician's office are more convenient hours at clinics, inability to get an appointment, not wanting to bother the pediatrician after hours and not thinking the problem was serious enough to go to the pediatrician. The AAP has urged retailers to form relationships with local pediatricians to ensure that young children are able to receive follow-up care after their visits to in-store clinics.
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