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Retailers set up in-store clinics

WASHINGTON, April 13 (UPI) -- U.S. consumers are increasingly going to clinics inside retail stores for vaccinations and treatment of minor ailments, experts say.

CNNMoney.com reported Monday that retail giants such as Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Rite-Aid have medical clinics within their stores, offering services that are less costly than trips to the traditional doctor's office.

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"In many ways these retail clinics are a response to a broken health care system," said Jonathan Weiner, professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Not everyone has good access to primary care. We're also dealing with a shortage of primary care doctors in this country."

Bruce Carlson of the healthcare market research firm Kalorama Information said the retail clinics are lucrative for retailers. In 2008, there were about 1,200 in-store clinics, with annual revenue of $545 million. By 2013, Carlson said the total is estimated to reach 2,400 clinics, generating about $2 billion in annual revenue.

Candace Corlett with the consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail, said the overall appeal of retail clinics is the convenience they offer patients.

"Suppose I have a sore throat and I don't have time to go to the doctor, but I still have to buy my groceries," Corlett said. "I can stop at Walgreens after work, pick up my milk, and have my throat checked at the same time."

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