Co-located Retail Clinics and Pharmacies: An Opportunity to Provide More Primary Care

Pharmacy (Basel). 2019 Jun 26;7(3):74. doi: 10.3390/pharmacy7030074.


This paper proposes that co-located retail clinics (RCs) and community pharmacies can increase opportunities to provide more accessible, affordable, and patient-friendly primary care services in the United States. RCs are small businesses of about 150-250 square feet with a clientele of about 10-30 patients each day and most frequently staffed by nurse practitioners (NPs). Community pharmacies in the U.S. at ~67,000 far outnumber RCs at ~2800, thereby opening substantial opportunity for growth. Community pharmacies and pharmacists have been working to increase on-site clinical services, but progress has been slowed by the relative isolation from other practitioners. An ideal merged facility based on an integrated platform is proposed. NPs and pharmacists could share functions that fulfill documented consumer preferences and still maintain separate practice domains. Potential benefits include a broader inventory of clinical services including laboratory tests, immunizations, patient education, and physical assessment, as well as better patient access, interprofessional training opportunities, and economies related to the use of resources, day-to-day operations, and performance metrics. Challenges include the availability of sufficient, appropriately trained staff; limitations imposed by scope of practice and other laws; forging of collaborative relationships between NPs and pharmacists; and evidence that the merged operations provide economic benefits beyond those of separate enterprises.

Keywords: community pharmacy; healthcare access; interprofessional training; nurse practitioners; pharmacists; primary care; retail clinics.