Stressing collaboration, ACP issues position paper on retail clinics
PHILADELPHIA — The American College of Physicians has issued a position paper on retail clinics whose executive summary was published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine, emphasizing the importance of collaboration between doctors and retail clinics.
The Associated Press recently reported that the rise of retail clinics has sparked a change in the relationship between physicians and patients, and the ACP’s position paper seems to be aware of this shift. The paper shows some concern that patients will begin looking to retail clinics instead of primary care.
“Retail health clinics should serve as an episodic alternative to care from an established primary care practice for relatively healthy patients without complex medical histories,” the ACP wrote as its first recommendation, adding, “Ideally, all patients should establish a longitudinal care relationship with a physician. Physicians should discuss circumstances in which the use of a retail health clinic might be appropriate.”
In an effort to avoid what could become a tug-of-war over patients between retail clinics and primary care, the ACP stressed the need for collaboration between the two to create system in which patients can benefit from both, with communication at its center.
“ACP believes it is primarily the responsibility of the retail health clinic to promptly communicate information about a retail health clinic visit to a patient's primary care physician, including but not limited to the administration of any vaccination, prescriptions, tests, or postcare instructions,” the paper says in another recommendation. “A balance must be struck between the convenience and access retail clinics provide and the importance of longitudinal relationships between patients and physicians, particularly for patients who have complex medical histories.”