How do doctors feel about retail-based medical clinics?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Despite their increasing popularity, The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all spoken out against retail-based medical clinics.

You may assume physicians may be against this idea because it threatens their pay. However, there are genuine reasons why physicians would be concerned about the presence of retail-based clinics. One main reason: a lack of a patient-centered medical home (PCMH).

Having a PCMH is vitally important. It’s where one’s complete medical records are kept and where a primary care professional can manage a patient’s overall long-term care -- a concept called continuity of care.

Retail-based clinics mostly serve as a quick fix for people who need assistance between doctor’s visits or who need a physical exam for a job -- some advertise themselves as such. Therefore, physicians worry that these clinics may “fragment” health care. Some may confuse these clinics for a traditional PCMH and never go through the process of selecting one.

Furthermore, the PCMH is designed to coordinate care focused on long-term wellness. For example, if a test reveals high blood sugar levels, that person may require years of medical care, which include multiple visits and/or referrals to endocrinologists or special surgeons. If a person falls sick and needs to be hospitalized, the hospital may coordinate the treatment plan with the primary care provider; some even visit and treat sick patients at the hospital.

However, despite the complaints, the numbers of retail-based clinic visits are growing. Hence more and more physicians are suggesting collaboration.

This content originally appeared on

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