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Once upon a time, health care for children was provided by a physician in a medical office at a scheduled time, and the cost of the services was not discussed with the doctor. Today, a family may drop in without an appointment to a clinic located in a shopping center, and scan a price list posted on the wall before deciding on a service.

A new editorial in JAMA Pediatrics argues that traditional pediatric practices would do well to learn from these retail-based clinics, which have burgeoned over the past decade and are being used by many families for much of routine pediatric care.

While research on the quality of care provided at these clinics is scarce, the article notes that they have adopted standardized, protocol-based practices for high-quality minor illnesses, and they avoid seeing children under 18 months, whose care may be more complex.

If practices are to compete with this new model, they should consider expanded office hours and after-hours care; same-day and walk-in appointments; co-location of frequently used services; and reassignment of staff to maximize each person’s contribution, among other enhancements.

The author also writes that practices must improve the overall care experience for busy families and provide consumer-friendly information about pricing. Parents are increasingly concerned with quality, convenience and cost, he notes, and pediatric practices that address these issues will have the best chances of success in the changing landscape of care.

See an abstract of the article


Kids With Pediatricians Also Getting Care at Clinics, Reuters, 7-22-13

Retail Health Clinics More Popular on Ease for Parents, Bloomberg News, 7-22-13