The Key Differences Between Retail Clinics and Urgent Care Centers

If you have ever been in a major retailer, pharmacy chain, or a similar store then you likely have seen a “retail clinic.”

For the most part, retail clinics aim to provide convenient and affordable healthcare services to shoppers while they’re already shopping or running an errand. A retail clinic may be good for an individual with extremely basic healthcare needs.

However, a retail clinic is not usually a suitable alternative for an urgent care center if a patient requires more comprehensive healthcare services.

Sometimes though, patients may not fully understand when to use either urgent care centers or retail clinics. Both facilities usually have similar locations and services offered to patients. However, urgent care centers have the ability to deliver even more diagnostic and urgent care medical treatment than retail clinics.

So what are some of the key differences between urgent care centers and retail clinics?

Urgent care centers have both walk-in clinic access as well as comprehensive care services

Unlike a retail clinic, an urgent care center can provide both immediate minor healthcare treatment as well as comprehensive care.

For example, patients can walk in to an urgent care center for minor injuries including cuts and bruises just like at a retail clinic. But an urgent care center can also provide so much more than a retail clinic.

Some of the key diagnostic, preventive, and comprehensive care capabilities found at an urgent care center include:

  • Lab tests, STD screenings, and chronic disease screenings
  • Minor surgical care for advanced injuries including foreign object removal
  • Staffed with board-certified physicians
  • Imaging services including x-rays
  • Employer health services for large and small employers

Urgent care centers provide a reliable and cost-effective way for patients to get their urgent care needs met without needing to go to the hospital.

Retail clinics offer very basic healthcare services

Ultimately, a retail clinic is designed to provide a very basic set of healthcare services for patients.

For example, retail clinics may provide sprain and minor injury treatment, first aid services, and sometimes preventive screenings. Any type of urgent medical situation should not be treated at a retail clinic since these locations don’t have the capabilities to treat urgent situations.

A patient that has a very minor healthcare concern may likely benefit from a visit to a retail clinic.

For a more in-depth breakdown of urgent care centers and retail clinics, check out our breakdown here. And as always if you need urgent care services ASAP then make sure to visit us at AFC Urgent Care West Long Branch!


3700 Cahaba Beach Road Birmingham, AL 35242

Our Mission and Values:

Our mission is to provide the best healthcare possible in a kind and caring environment, in an economical manner, while respecting the rights of all of our patients, at times and locations convenient to the patient.

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