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Retail Clinics Stumble

Posted Oct 28 2008 9:56pm
Wal-Mart’s retail clinic operator, CheckUps, is shutting 23 clinics in four states because it is unable to pay the bills. Wal-Mart seems to have expanded the clinic program too quickly and has been unable to drive the traffic necessary to make the clinics profitable. (Source: New York Times )

That sound you hear is the AMA dancing a little jig. The AMA and its allies have been on a state-by-state jihad to block retail clinics at all costs. I’ve been pretty critical of the AMA for being anti-patient, anti-consumer and only in the business of protecting wealthy doctors. However, my own recent experience with a retail clinic may prove illuminating for others.

In a hurry, I popped into a retail clinic for evaluation of a bloodshot eye. At my age, everything out of the ordinary is cause for concern. I thought it might be pink eye and wanted a second opinion. This is the kind of illness that is perfect for retail clinics: common, benign and not time consuming. At thought I’d be in and out in 20 minutes. An hour later, I still had not been able to see the Nurse Practitioner. I called my family physicians’ office and was told pop in. My regular doctor (who I normally have to wait about 25 minutes to see) was able to get me in and out in just under 20 minutes. The lesson for me was clear: don’t believe the hype. Retail clinics have their place, but aren’t perfect and aren’t the panacea for all of the healthcare delivery woes.
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