Several primary health innovations obsessives like ourselves have noted with interest the appearance of Trends in Retail Clinic Use Among the Commercially Insured (free registration/subscription required to download the 6-page report), the latest analysis of the field by the industrious Dr. Ateev Mehrotra & colleagues*.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/American Journal of Managed Care report documents changes in usage of retail clinics by a subset of over 13 million people whose health benefits are administered by Aetna.
Other commentaries note that the report documents retail clinics growth rates that sound impressive, but provide you, dear reader, with no context for those rates – no way to determine what if anything they might mean.
We may wind up making several observations about the report’s findings, but – hey! – this is the internet, so we we’ll make just one for now. We feel it’s a doozy.
The report notes prominently, yet almost in passing, that “Retail clinic use increased 10-fold from 2007 to 2009.”
Wow, “tenfold growth in usage” you say. “Sounds like a lot. But later, you tell me that just 7% of the conditions treatable by retail clinics, that were in fact treated by SOMEbody in 2009, were actually treated in retail clinics. That doesn’t sound so special.”
Well – is it special, or isn’t it?
We’re here to tell you it is. And we’ll tell you in pictures. Specifically, this one (Click on the chart to enlarge):
Adoption Rates of Popular US Consumer Goods & Services
Team Mehrotra’s report tells us that retail clinics usage among people who could use them, for purposes they’re intended for, grew TEN TIMES in 2 years, to SEVEN PERCENT of potential users in the population studied.
Now examine the chart above closely. Not many of those thoroughly familiar consumer goods & services show SEVEN PERCENT ADOPTION in their second year of existence. Or even (since the study isn’t looking at adoption from the “absolute” start of the retail clinics concept) in their third, fifth, or tenth.
Several DO show TENFOLD increases in usage during 2-year segments of the life cycles shown in the chart. Note that in most such instances, that kind of growth happens in the steep parts of the curves-where similar growth happens in the 2-year increments before and after.
If you’re thinking “wow- that suggests retail clinic usage growth is poised to really take off!”, well, you’re thinking what I’m thinking.
*Make no mistake, he’s listed as if he were just another contributor, but it is highly unlikely that he was not the point man on the report.