Australian Department Stores Offer Customers Free Mammograms

January 21, 2009 03:29 PM
by Lindsey Chapman
Australia is testing a new retail-based plan for helping women obtain routine breast cancer screening.

Lingerie and Mammograms

The next time women shop at some select department stores in Australia, they’ll be able to have more than a shopping spree; they can also have a free mammogram.

According to The Australian, the lingerie sections of four stores in Sydney will contain the latest screening equipment for mammograms. Images will be transmitted to the BCI Breast Center and read by two doctors.

“We live in a juggling society where women are juggling children and grandchildren, juggling their work and often leave themselves to last,” BCI executive director John Boyages explained to The Australian. “Here’s a chance to have a mammogram when you’re shopping.”

Not only is the retail-based screening option more convenient for some women, but they also say it’s less intimidating. Beverley Hunt, who had breast cancer years ago, told The Sydney Morning Herald she felt “much more relaxed” outside a hospital setting.

Elizabeth Moulang agrees. “I think it is nice that the clinic is in the lingerie department as it’s very comfortable and girlie.”

Boyages estimated that 1 in 200 women tested in a department store would be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Retail Clinics in the United States

Retail clinics are a growing trend in the United States, too. In Sept. 2008, researchers from RAND reported that many consumers are seeking help for basic health care needs like upper respiratory infections, sinusitis and bronchitis at these facilities. The number of clinics available was estimated to grow from 450 to 6,000 in five years, WebMD reported.

A major drawing factor for the clinics appeared to be convenience. However, others say the option has its drawbacks, such as quality of care available. Some physicians worry that these clinics will attempt to address chronic problems a person experiences. listed several positive and negative effects of retail clinics. On the negative side, Wal-Mart came up again as a “race to the bottom” type of facility “where quality must be sacrificed for price.” The article continued, “In the healthcare world, cheaper isn’t always better, and competing with Wal-Mart clinics could result in decreased quality of care.”

Wal-Mart has had some other problems with its clinics, with almost 23 of them closing recently, according to The New York Times. CheckUps, a walk-in clinic operator, had problems paying staff in its Wal-Mart based locations, and owed more than $100,000 to the employment agency that staffed the clinics.

Deisha Galberth, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, told The New York Times that the chain was looking to reopen the closed clinics as soon as possible, “whether or not they are operated by CheckUps.” Wal-Mart uses these clinics and other stores, like vision centers, to help attract customers.

Related Topic: Attracting customers with free prescription drugs

Supermarket chains Giant Food, Wegmans and Stop & Shop are offering prescription antibiotics free of charge, claiming it’s to help customers in tough times. But retail experts say it is an “aggressive move in supermarkets’ heated battle for shoppers,” The Washington Post reported. While the free antibiotic programs at the stores may be a ploy to draw in more customers and increase business, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that prescription drugs are one of the items people are going without in the economic downturn.

Reference: Breast Cancer


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