1 in 5 U.S. adults used a retail clinic in 2016. Increasingly, health consumers seek care from retail clinics for more complex healthcare services beyond flu shots and pre-school exams, according to the Harris Poll’s survey, One in Five Adults Turn to Retail Health Clinics for Treatment, Prevention, and More, published January 5, 2017.

Additional points the poll revealed are worth attention for public health policy purposes:

  • Twice as many people who identify as LGBT turn to retail clinics than others (35% vs. 18%)
  • Older people frequent retail clinics for flu vaccines more than younger people do
  • More younger men (18-34) use retail clinics for health screenings (such as blood pressure and cholesterol tests) than people in other demographics
  • 60% more younger men 18-34 use retail clinics for health counseling, such as support for smoking cessation, than other health consumers
  • More younger men who visited retail clinics also made more retail purchases such as over-the-counter medications (OTCs) for primary care complaints such as headaches, acid-reflect, and eye care; personal care products; and, food, compared with other health consumers
  • Fewer younger women 18-34 tend to use retail clinics than other people. THINK-Health hypothesis: younger women receive more health care from OB-GYNs in this age group, potentially using these specialists as primary care medical homes.

The Harris Poll was conducted online in English among 2,223 adults 18 years and over in September-October 2016.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  As healthcare coverage through insurance becomes more uncertain for U.S. health consumers, accessible, convenient, and value-priced healthcare services will be increasingly attractive to people who seek care. Retail clinics bring those features to the healthcare market, along with transparent prices.

For many younger men and other consumers, the retail clinic is emerging as a primary care medical home for both care and counsel, along with access to food, personal care, and medicines that can be purchased without a prescription.

At the other end of the demographic spectrum, over one-half of older people 55 years and over received a flu vaccine in a retail clinic in 2016. This is a huge opportunity for pharmacists and physician extenders in retail clinics to provide another sort of booster to aging health consumers: health information, advice, and counsel for medication adherence, the Holy Grail for prescription drug companies.

Retail clinics are part of a growing ecosystem of self-care opportunity for health care consumers. Read more about this expanding health/care phenomenon in Health Populi.