Walk-in clinics are springing up across the country. Currently, there are about 1,200, up from 850 in 2008 and 250 in 2007, according to the Convenient Care Association, a trade association for retail-based convenient care clinics.
They're run by hospitals, retailers like CVS and Walgreen, community health centers, or nursing schools who diagnose simple maladies, like strep throat or flu, and provide prescriptions, medical advice, or referrals if the problem is beyond their scope. These clinics have caught on in part because they don't require an appointment and tend to be less expensive than visiting the doctor or an emergency room visit. Some take insurance.
When visiting one, says Dr. Lori Helm, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), ask to have your records forwarded to your doctor, and be sure to tell him about any medication prescribed at the clinic. She says the organization doesn't recommend walk-in clinics for treatment of chronic medical problems.