MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: Rise in walk-in clinics - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: Rise in walk-in clinics

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A growing number of people are looking for less expensive, more convenient ways to get medical care - and the market place is responding.

CVS is where Christi Milledge and her family typically end up.

"If I know it's something like pink eye, or strep, I love a minute clinic," said Milledge.

It's close to her house and she knows she'll be in and out in 20 minutes. A visit to her primary care doctor is more of a commitment. Then there's the cost

"For us, with our insurance, it is so much cheaper than a primary care visit," said Milledge.

She's one of a growing number of people turning to retail clinics, and the number of those clinics in the U.S. is skyrocketing.

According to researchers at Rand Health, the first clinics began opening in 2000, and by 2010, they numbered close to 1,200. Now there are even more. The number of visits quadrupled from 2007 to 2009. Primary care physicians are aware of the trend.

Some doctors says the need will only continue to increase with the Affordable Care Act.

According to the study, more people with insurance will drive the need for primary care doctors - which could reduce patient access. Dr. Rhodes does believe retail clinics have their place, but the problem with seeing different practitioners all the time is there is no continuity of care.

"The best care and most cost-effective care is in a medical home by the doctor who knows them and has known them for years," said Rhodes.

So he's doing what he can to stay competitive: extending his hours, working weekends, hoping to keep patients like Christi in his office instead.

If you visit one of these clinics, make sure to get copies of all your paperwork. Take those copies to your primary care physician so they can keep an accurate record of your medical history.

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