Mon
Oct 1 2007
03:08 pm
By: Andy Axel  shortURL

Need holiday decorations, makeup, photo developing, and a doctor's visit?

Walgreens plans to follow CVS and Kroger by putting walk-in clinics inside at least some of its Nashville area stores by year’s end.

Walgreens’ Take Care Health Systems plans to open about 100 clinics nationwide over the next few weeks, the company said Monday.

Take Care has 63 clinics today, and "by the end of calendar 2008, our goal is to have more than 400,” President Greg Wasson said.

Part of Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreen Co.’s growth strategy calls for “using our existing store space to drive customer traffic through new services like printer cartridge refills and convenient care clinics,” Wasson said in a statement.

I find this troublesome. I wonder how much this crush for convenience is impacting our health care. Retail focus is typically upon getting things done quickly.

And call me a curmudgeon, but with the current focus on commercializing the doctor-patient relationship ("ask your doctor about Miracle-Fix!"), I don't think that a health clinic necessarily belongs right alongside a prescription medicine vendor, either.

bizgrrl's picture

I've been wondering about

I've been wondering about these walk-in clinics. This post lead me to review the information further.

USAToday had an article on CVS and the "MinuteClinic".

Here is MinuteClinic's treatment page.
Here is the Little Clinic's (used by Kroger) treatment page.

It seems to me it is possible to be under diagnosed. For example, you fall and bump your head. You go to a walk-in/after hours clinic. They patch you up, maybe give you some pain meds, send you home. Later that night you get a horrible headache, go to the ER, find out you have a brain bleed that should have been handled earlier for a better outcome.

I know that is probably an uncommon occurrence, but when do you know for sure? I really wish our healthcare did not have to be reduced to this. As I said earlier regarding infrared scanning of auto occupants, we must be ready for change, but is change always for the better?

Virgil Proudfoot's picture

In the absence of reform from the public sector . . .

Since the federal government--the only entity big enough to solve the healthcare crisis--has failed to act, the private sector is stepping in. I wish we had a universal, single-payer system, but since the insurance industry owns Hillary, Obama, and Edwards, we won't. Facing that reality, I don't see this movement by CVS, Kroger, etc., as such a bad thing. The CVS clinics, I understand, take Blue Cross and other insurance. They don't make appointments, and if the problem looks serious, they refer you to a hospital or doctor's office. The clinics might take some of the load off emergency rooms.

Of course, the AMA, the original opponent of universal health care before the insurance rackets took over, may have other ideas. They could pull a few strings in Washington and kill all of this, as they've done before. Frankly, I'd love to see the AMA face up against a lobbying opponent as powerful as Wal-Mart. The AMA is the most powerful union of all, and it's the only one I'd like to see busted.

mjw's picture

On Science Friday last month

There was a segment on Science Friday last month some time about this very subject. They talked with one of the muckety-mucks in the professional organization for family physicians. I believe she said that CVS, at least, had contacted her organization and had worked with them to specify the protocols for what the clinics would cover and how they would be set up. They have a very narrow list of covered conditions for which they will see someone (generally of the pinkeye/strep throat/bladder infection variety) where a physician only needs to be consulted if the condition persists. And they do vaccinations, which, heck, they've been doing in grocery stores for a while now.

If it can keep you from having to go to the emergency room for a simple course of antibiotics just because it's a weekend, and if it can take some of the load off the doctor's offices when some kid goes to school with pinkeye and gives it to his entire class, these clinics can be useful.

They do need to be carefully designed and staffed. They need to report visits to the primary physician (and get signed permission to do so). And patients need to pay attention when told to make an appointment with their physician if condition X doesn't clear up in N days. (But patients who won't do that would probably not go to the doctor anyway.)

smalc's picture

My doctor's office has a

My doctor's office has a P.A. on staff. I prefer to see her if it's minor and I pretty much know what is wrong. It's much easier to get an appointment, and the visit is much much faster. She doesn't do the whole nurse thing where the nurse comes to get you, takes you to the room, and then you wait another 15 or 20 minutes for the doctor. I'm betting she isn't bothered by all the pharm reps I see around the office either.

Andy Axel's picture

I'm surprised that people

I'm surprised that people don't see the difference between having a clinic inside of a retail outlet and, you know, an actual doctor's office.

This is why I will probably never run my own business.

People here are defending this move. I guess there's a lot more demand for retail medical practice than I thought.

____________________________

Respect mah authoritah!

SammySkull's picture

Is the problem that retail

Is the problem that retail outlets are opening their own clinics or that the health care industry is so horrible that this seems like a good idea?

Andy Axel's picture

...

Yes.

____________________________

Respect mah authoritah!

erhwright's picture

Link...

Virgil Proudfoot's picture

The problem is that the politicians have failed

The problem is that American politicians have failed to bring about easy, inexpensive access to healthcare. The solution itself is simple; it's single payer. But implementing it is impossible since most of the Rs and Ds are owned by the insurance lobby and the AMA.

Therefore, with any meaningful reform in the public sector having been blocked, we can only look to incremental improvements from the private sector.

If Hillary won't do it, then Wal-Mart will. I'd much prefer to have single payer, but I'll shed no tears if eventually the AMA is brought to heel by bog-box corporate interests. I know these clinics don't employ MDs yet, but if doctors had to work on salary, as they do in most civilized countries, you'd see the costs come down pretty fast. And I doubt if the quality of care in the US--already worse than in most developed countries--would suffer much if at all.

If the government won't do it, then let's see a skilled union buster like Wal-Mart take on the AMA, the most powerful union in the world.

Pamela Treacy's picture

It might have its limits but it's a good service

MJW said it best. For basic conditions, this is an affordable option. Since my husband and I are both self employed, we have an extremely high deductible. Sick visits to the doctor's office are paid directly to the provider from our checkbook. My husband recently visted the CVS clinic for a case of poison ivy. In and out in under an hour with a medication in hand. Now if it was a serious condition of course the emergency room or our family doctor would be a better option.

I am looking forward to someone doing this for the dental industry for basic teeth cleaning. I paid $95 for a teeth cleaning last week. No x-rays. But dentist came in for 4 minutes. The process took less than an hour. If you calculated that on an annual basis, that's nearly a $200,000 in revenue which I guess the hygenist sees less than half.

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