Evaluating the Pros and Cons of Using Minute Clinics

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Are you debating using the services of Minute Clinics because you’re unsure of the associated benefits and downsides? Here is a comprehensive guide of the pros and cons of using Minute Clinics to help you determine if it is the right option for you and your family.

What is a Minute Clinic?

A Minute Clinic is a type of retail clinic that offers medical services through CVS Health in the US. Often, the clinic is within the CVS retail store, in the pharmacy area. A Minute Clinic treats a limited number of minor illnesses and injuries, as well as provides preventative measures that include vaccinations. They have been increasing in number across the United States.

Pros of Minute Clinics

medical_billing_advocate-67An obvious positive point about Minute Clinics is the flexibility of the clinic’s hours. They are open seven days a week, year-round. When you work Monday through Friday or have limited free time due to a busy schedule, the convenience of a Minute Clinic can be an advantageous option. You can access the Minute Clinic’s services when your doctor’s office is likely only open for limited hours during the week.

There are a range of services available to you at Minute Clinics. You can get an examination, treatment and prescription all in that one location, even for frequent illnesses such as strep throat, pink eye or infections of the nose, ears and throat. Additionally, minor injuries, such as a joint sprain, are treatable at a CVS Minute Clinic. Many routine tests are also available at these facilities.

In addition, these clinics serve both children and adults, provided your child is at least 18 months of age. You do not need an appointment, unlike at a doctor’s office, which makes it convenient when you don’t have time to plan ahead. Wait times are often within 15 or 20 minutes, which is often unlikely when you have an appointment to see your doctor. The time savings are big, especially when you have a busy schedule. At a minute clinic, you will likely be seen by a physicians’ assistant or a nurse practitioner.

As for pricing, it is more affordable to go to a Minute Clinic or other retail clinic than to go to an urgent care center. It is also significantly more affordable to attend a retail clinic than an emergency room. To check pricing of a Minute Clinic near you, call them to ask or check the published Price List at the CVS site; prices are also posted at each clinic.

The transparent pricing is a positive point; you can determine in advance what the costs are for the services you require, unlike at a doctor’s office where you often have no idea about the prices you will be charged until you receive the bill in the mail. Find out from your insurance provider which services are covered by your plan prior to attending the clinic so that you are aware of the estimated amounts.

Minute Clinics: The Negative Side

As earlier alluded to, Minute Clinics focus on minor illnesses and injuries, rather than more acute care situations that require attendance at an urgent-care center or life-threatening circumstances that land you in the ER. Minute Clinics are only appropriate for a limited number of non-life-threatening instances.

Another point made by critics of the retail clinic is that you may not be receiving high-quality services within the CVS retail environment. Getting healthcare services through a retailer is not something everyone is comfortable with doing. It is an issue of not having trust in the skill of the medical practitioner at the CVS pharmacy.

medical-billing-advocate_144771409Indeed, some people would rather see their personal physician, as opposed to receiving treatment from a clinic professional whom they have never seen before that day. That is especially true if they have built up a strong relationship with their doctor. Also, the nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants that provide care at Minute Clinics are not board-certified doctors, which may cause doubts on the consistency and quality of care. The quality of care may, for this reason, be higher at a doctor’s office.

A doctor’s office may also provide a higher standard of care than a Minute Clinic because the doctor has access to your medical history, whereas the clinic does not have this information. The lack of access to a central health record is one reason that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns about taking teens and children to retail clinics.

The AAP also suggests that children with special healthcare needs may not get the high level of care they require. Many elderly people are more susceptible to illnesses than younger adults and also often have more advanced medical needs, so they need a higher quality healthcare provider. Minute Clinics can supplement a patient’s primary doctor, but many medical professionals caution against using a clinic as a primary care provider.

There are many pros and cons to consider when you are deciding whether to attend a Minute Clinic. Although some Americans swear by the excellent medical care they have received at a retail clinic, others claim they received impersonal care techniques and bad treatment. Make sure to weigh your options well when considering implementing the care of a CVS Minute Clinic.

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4 responses to “Evaluating the Pros and Cons of Using Minute Clinics”

  1. MD premier says:

    Hi Pat,

    Thank you for sharing this helpful information about the “pros” and “cons” of using a minute clinic.This information is really a big help in considering which type of health service we need, Knowing the pros and cons of a minute clinic we can determine if they can provide the patient the appropriate service or care they need.

    Great and very helpful article.


  2. Aisha says:

    Hello Pat,

    I know that it has been a while since this article published, but I have only recently come across it. I was wondering if you could advise me whether or not you think visiting the Minute Clinic is good for concerns about the skin. I wanted to visit the a retail clinic to see if I would be able to get prescription cream for my skin as I have painful acne. My insurance will not cover visiting a dermatologist and I feel this is the only way I can get treatment. I just want to know your thoughts on my situation. Thanks!

    • says:

      Hi, Aisha. We cannot give out medical advice, but typically, clinics such as Minute Clinics are good for non life-threatening illnesses and injuries. I hope this information helps!

  3. David says:

    Total waste of time. On their Web site they claim they treat UTIs, but when you get there and tell them up front that is why you are there, they go through the motions and at the end tell you, they can only refer you, and they cannot even do a urine test, because that would mean, they would have to treat you. If they know this up front, then, they should just say, sorry, nothing we can do for you, go see a real doctor, and we will not be charging you for today. Just another way for Florida Hospital to steal your hard earned money.