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Parents Choosing Retail Clinics Over Physician Visits for Kids

  • August 21, 2013
  • RPh on the Go

Retail Clinics A new study has found that many parents are choosing to visit retail clinics rather than schedule a visit with their children’s pediatrician. This is due largely in part to the convenience of retail pharmacies, which are numerous when compared to a pediatrician’s office. Retail pharmacies offer extended hours, which can be critical for people who work long hours or otherwise have a strict schedule during the day. Oftentimes, pediatricians can have restricted hours, backlogs, or extensive wait times that make a visit for a common illness such as a cold, sore throat, or ear infection tedious. Retail pharmacies treat these common childhood illnesses, without the standard wait and scheduling conflicts that a regular pediatrician’s office may present.

A survey conducted of 1,484 parents showed that over 47.8% of parents had visited a retail clinic more than once in the past year. The most common reasons for doing so were the retail clinic’s extended hours, not wanting to bother a pediatrician after hours, or their child’s condition not being severe enough to merit a trip to the doctor’s office. Pharmacies can make their clinics more accessible to parents by clearly displaying their hours, both in-store and online. Some retail clinics may have a reading area or place for children to play while they wait for their appointment.

Pediatricians and retail pharmacies must keep communication lines open to enable a high standard of patient care. This will reduce the amount of duplicate services rendered, disruptions in care or medication, and help to manage client illnesses. Some retail clinics may be quick to prescribe antibiotics, whereas a pediatrician may only use them as a last resort. Research showed that antibiotics were prescribed at a higher than average rate at retail clinics when compared to standard pediatrician’s offices. Being aware of antibiotic overuse and keeping communication lines open when it comes to treating patients and their children is crucial to maintaining overall patient well being. Ensuring that pharmacy clinicians do not over prescribe antibiotics for illnesses which may be treated without their intervention can be helpful. Many people use retail clinics due to the fact that they are convenient, affordable, and offer appointments at times that better fit their schedule.

Retail pharmacies and their staff offer a unique benefit to customers, allowing for more flexibility when scheduling appointments, accessible hours, and the convenience of medication pickup at the same location if a person also fills their prescription at the clinic they are receiving care at. Offering parents a clinic that can meet their child’s needs while still managing to have operating hours which fit into an often jammed work-life schedule can help with client retention, and may possibly lead to client referrals.

Does your pharmacy also operate a clinic on site? How do you see the face of pharmacy clinics changing in relation to pediatric care?

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