The Ohio Health Issues Poll is conducted every year to learn more about the health opinions, behaviors and status of Ohio adults. In 2018, OHIP asked Ohio adults several questions about their experience with retail clinics and telemedicine.
RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, defines retail clinics as “medical clinics located in pharmacies, grocery stores and ‘big box’ stores …(that) offer extended weekend and evening hours, walk-in availability and short wait times.”1
About 2 in 10 Ohio adults (18%) reported that they had used a retail clinic in the past year.
OHIP asked adults who had used a retail clinic, “In your most recent visit, what kind of services did you receive at this retail clinic?” About 4 in 10 adults said they had received illness care (40%). Another 4 in 10 had received vaccinations, including flu shots (37%). About 1 in 10 had received an annual checkup or sports physical (8%).
OHIP also asked adults who had used a retail clinic to identify the main reason they had chosen to do so. Respondents could give any answer. About 2 in 10 of these adults (19%) gave an answer related to location. For example, the retail clinic was close to where they lived. Another 2 in 10 (17%) gave answers related to scheduling. For example, it was easier to go to a retail clinic because they did not need to make an appointment.
Other adults who had used a retail clinic chose to do so because they couldn’t get an appointment with their regular doctor (9%), they felt it was more affordable (8%) or they found it more convenient (8%).
Telemedicine is another newer development in health care. The American Telemedicine Association defines telemedicine as the “remote delivery of health care services and clinical information using telecommunications technology.”2
Telemedicine can take many forms. OHIP asked Ohio adults specifically if they had ever used live, real-time video telemedicine to interact with their health care provider. Only 4% of Ohio adults said they had.
However, a majority of Ohio adults was interested in telemedicine. About 6 in 10 Ohio adults said they would be very, somewhat or a little interested in using this method to interact with their health care provider in the future. Interest in telemedicine was greater among younger adults. More than 7 in 10 young adults ages 18 to 29 (74%) were very, somewhat or a little interested in using real-time telemedicine in the future. That compares with about 6 in 10 adults ages 30 to 45 (63%) or 46 to 64 (60%), and only 3 in 10 adults ages 65 or older (34%).
Interest also varied by the type of community in which adults live. Nearly 6 in 10 adults living in urban (60%) or suburban (57%) areas were very, somewhat or a little interested in using real-time telemedicine to interact with their doctor. That compares with about 5 in 10 adults living in rural areas (48%).
Access to health care is an important part of maintaining good health. Retail clinics and telemedicine are both newer models of health care access that are likely to affect the health care landscape in the future. Asking these questions gives us a snapshot of how the technologies are currently being integrated into our health care system. It can also allow us to monitor the use of and satisfaction with these models over time.
Flu season has just begun in the United States. The Ohio Department of Health is reporting sporadic activity. This is the time of year when influenza becomes more prevalent in most communities around the country. Influenza (flu) can cause hospitalization and death. The risk is higher among certain groups of people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months or older get an influenza vaccination, or “flu shot.” If you can’t get an appointment for the flu shot at your physician’s office, a retail clinic is one convenient walk-in option for this important protection against illness.
1. RAND Corp. (2016). The Evolving Role of Retail Clinics. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2yUNKsP.
2. American Telemedicine Association. (n.d.) About Telemedicine. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2LxJ9oP.
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