|Doc in the Big Box: Shopping for Health Care|
|Written by Ardena L. Flippin, MD, MBA|
Remember when the concept of urgent care clinics was called “Doc in the Box”? Well get ready for “Doc in the Big Box”.
Approximately 400 clinics already exist, and an additional 1500 will be up and running by the end of this year (Kevin B. O'Reilly, AMNews. June 4, 2007 amednews.com). Wal-Mart will open 400 new retail clinics by the year 2010 (Baltimore Business Journal, February 7, 2008).
Which do we anticipate: patients judiciously exercising their consumer-directed healthcare options or will we see examples of arbitrary decisions to obtain ”drive-by” healthcare?
Retail health clinics are an emerging business/care model. The issues that revolve around the model, in no particular order are:
Supposedly these clinics will treat minor ailments (sore throats, sinus infections, bladder infections and earaches); with the key word being “treat” and the convenience of in-store pharmacies - I’m having horrors of drug-resistance even as I write. (Any of us who practice clinical medicine know how difficult it is to dissuade a patient from demanding an antibiotic, when they don’t need one for their diagnosis.) And what about policy and regulatory constraints?
Although it’s “early days” as to whether this new paradigm will succeed, I can’t help but think that this reminds me of how we as physicians became victims of managed care – we weren’t proactive then, and we’re not proactive now. Again, we seem to be taking a wait and see approach. Haven’t we learned anything from previous experience?REFERENCES:
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