Ateev Mehrotra, MD; Hangsheng Liu, PhD; John L. Adams, PhD; Margaret C. Wang, PhD; Judith R. Lave, PhD; N. Marcus Thygeson, MD; Leif I. Solberg, MD; Elizabeth A. McGlynn, PhD
Grant Support: By the California Health Care Foundation and a career development award (KL2-RR024154-03) from the National Center for Research Resources, a component of the National Institutes of Health.
Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.
Reproducible Research Statement:Study protocol and statistical code: Available from Dr. Mehrotra (firstname.lastname@example.org). Data set: Available through written agreements with the authors and HealthPartners.
Requests for Single Reprints: Ateev Mehrotra, MD, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 230 McKee Place, Suite 600, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; e-mail, email@example.com.
Current Author Addresses: Dr. Mehrotra: Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 230 McKee Place, Suite 600, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.
Dr. Liu: RAND, 4570 Fifth Avenue, Suite 600, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-2665.
Drs. Adams, Wang, and McGlynn: RAND, 1776 Main Street, Box 2138, Santa Monica, CA 90407.
Dr. Lave: A614 Crabtree Hall, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15261.
Dr. Thygeson: HealthPartners, 8170 33rd Avenue South, Bloomington, MN 55425.
Dr. Solberg: HealthPartners Research Foundation, Box 1524, MS 21111R, Minneapolis, MN 55440.
Author Contributions: Conception and design: A. Mehrotra, J.R. Lave, N.M. Thygeson, L.I. Solberg, E.A. McGlynn.
Analysis and interpretation of the data: A. Mehrotra, H. Liu, M.C. Wang, J.R. Lave, N.M. Thygeson, L.I. Solberg, E.A. McGlynn.
Drafting of the article: A. Mehrotra.
Critical revision of the article for important intellectual content: H. Liu, M.C. Wang, J.R. Lave, N.M. Thygeson, L.I. Solberg, E.A. McGlynn.
Final approval of the article: A. Mehrotra, H. Liu, J.R. Lave, L.I. Solberg, E.A. McGlynn.
Provision of study materials or patients: A. Mehrotra.
Statistical expertise: H. Liu, J.L. Adams.
Obtaining of funding: A. Mehrotra.
Administrative, technical, or logistic support: L.I. Solberg.
Collection and assembly of data: A. Mehrotra, L.I. Solberg.
Retail clinics are an increasingly popular source for medical care. Concerns have been raised about the effect of these clinics on the cost, quality, and delivery of preventive care.
To compare the care received at retail clinics for 3 acute conditions with that received at other care settings.
Claims data from 2005 and 2006 from the health plan were aggregated into care episodes (units that included initial and follow-up visits, pharmaceuticals, and ancillary tests). After 2100 episodes (700 each) were identified in which otitis media, pharyngitis, and urinary tract infection (UTI) were treated first in retail clinics, these episodes were matched with other episodes in which these illnesses were treated first in physician offices, urgent care centers, or emergency departments.
Enrollees of a large Minnesota health plan.
Enrollees who received care for otitis media, pharyngitis, or UTI.
Costs per episode, performance on 14 quality indicators, and receipt of 7 preventive care services at the initial appointment or subsequent 3 months.
Overall costs of care for episodes initiated at retail clinics were substantially lower than those of matched episodes initiated at physician offices, urgent care centers, and emergency departments ($110 vs. $166, $156, and $570, respectively; P < 0.001 for each comparison). Prescription costs were similar in retail clinics, physician offices, and urgent care centers ($21, $21, and $22), as were aggregate quality scores (63.6%, 61.0%, and 62.6%) and patient's receipt of preventive care (14.5%, 14.2%, and 13.7%) (P > 0.05 vs. retail clinics). In emergency departments, average prescription costs were higher and aggregate quality scores were significantly lower than in other settings.
A limited number of quality measures and preventive care services were studied. Despite matching, patients at different care sites might differ in their severity of illness.
Retail clinics provide less costly treatment than physician offices or urgent care centers for 3 common illnesses, with no apparent adverse effect on quality of care or delivery of preventive care.
California HealthCare Foundation.
Mehrotra A, Liu H, Adams JL, Wang MC, Lave JR, Thygeson NM, et al. Comparing Costs and Quality of Care at Retail Clinics With That of Other Medical Settings for 3 Common Illnesses. Ann Intern Med. ;151:321–328. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-151-5-200909010-00006
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2009;151(5):321-328.
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