Regarding Retail-based clinics raise concerns:
It is a pretty simple matter to predict that retail clinics are here to stay, given their rapid adoption and growth in recent years. They often deliver significant benefits to their sponsors, hosts and patients, while enabling independent-minded nurse practitioners and physician assistants to enjoy working without a boss. Considering how long physicians knew that patients often wished they could get care on evenings and weekends, yet few did anything to respond to this knowledge, it is not only unsurprising, but well-deserved that retail clinics have done so well. They add significant convenience of time and place, free parking and the opportunity to do something besides reading old magazines while waiting what are often extended sentences of waiting to see the doctor. The simplified working arrangements at retail clinics enable those who practice there to devote far more of their days to actually interacting with patients, which both practitioner and patient usually prefer.
The greatest promise these retail clinics may represent, however, may be in their potential for managing the health of patients, rather than just routine illness and injury. Two of the retail clinic chainsRediClinic and Convenient Care Clinic operationsplace close to equal emphasis on proactive health improvement and management (Stay Well is the RediClinic motto) as on reactive sickness care. This part of their services will be aligned beautifully with the interests and growing investments of employers in particular, as well as of commercial and government health insurance plans. The hosts of such clinics not only gain a flow of patients who may buy other products in their stores, including prescription drugs in many cases, but an onsite medical clinic for their own employees, and the potential to achieve the kinds of economic benefits other employers are enjoying through proactive health management. And few physicians can argue about practitioners in retail clinics usually being at least as well-educated, trained and experienced in keeping patients well as are physicians, themselves, who like the hospitals where many of them work exclusively, are primarily credentialed in reactive sickness care.
Retail clinics will be demonstrating how much they deserve to stay, particularly as they move increasingly into the kind of health management that can make them the equivalent of profit centers, not just for their hosts, but for employers and insurers, as well as their patients, while most physicians are stuck being cost centers for these payers, and when they have undertaken even to proactively manage chronic disease, have often cost Medicare, for example, more than they saved.
Scott MacStravic, Ph.D.Port Ludlow, Wash.
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