(HealthDay News) — Pharmacy chains are continuing to develop primary care venues within their stores, according to an article published in Medical Economics.

Retail medical sites have been expanding, with different approaches, all providing episodic care to those in need. CVS Pharmacy chains have been developing primary care venues within their stores, offering counseling for nutrition, weight loss, and smoking, as well as medical care; the health services are staffed by nurse practitioners or physician assistants, who can get advice from physicians. Walmart has established primary care clinics, providing a full-service primary care office staffed by nurse practitioners with primary care provider back-up.

The expansion was partially driven by the Affordable Care Act, which has generated an increasing need for primary care although there are too few primary care providers. The retail clinics offer long opening hours and no need for an appointment.

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Although some primary care providers and their professional associations have come out against pharmacy-based primary care, for many individuals this is the entry point into the health care system, according to the article.