Should primary care doctors embrace retail clinics?

Yes, they should.

Whether retail clinics will be a viable venue for the majority of minor medical conditions is in question, but in many cases, doctors seem to be taking an antagonistic front.

As this piece in the NY Times writes, “Many primary-care doctors still denigrate the retail clinics as cheap, unworthy competitors.” That’s precisely the wrong strategy to take.

Witness hospitals who do more to partner, rather than oppose, retail clinics.  They are taking better advantage of the situation, since the demographic that utilize retail clinics are women of child-bearing age, who are “exactly the customers that hospitals want.”

Primary care doctors should take notice, and see these clinics as an opportunity to expand their patient panel. For instance, they can offer their services for continuing and follow-up care.

Furthermore, with the established primary care shortage, it’s difficult for most physicians to make the argument that retail clinics pose a serious threat to their practice. Indeed, most doctors have said that the presence of retail clinics haven’t had any noticeable impact on their patient volume.