Innovations in Walk-in Physician Care
Here in Maine, Wal-Mart is discussing opening walk-in clinics, staffed by physicians, physician assistants and nurses. Watch for more soon about this trend spreading across the country and which promises more accessible and affordable healthcare to all – particularly the uninsured.
Below is some further information taken from HealthDecisions.org, summarizing a recent New York Times article:
With health-care costs soaring and an estimated 46 million Americans uninsured, many see cause for despair. Others see opportunity — for retail medical care. This year, a company called QuickHealth opened several clinics in Northern California — some in pharmacies, one inside a Wal-Mart — offering primary care on a pay-as-you-go, first-come-first-served basis seven days a week. For $39, a patient can have a 15-minute consultation with a licensed physician. A comprehensive physical is $59, while on-the-spot cholesterol tests, rapid strep tests and diabetes screenings are $29 each. For $99, the clinic offers wound suturing (including local anesthetic and a return visit to remove the stitches), while $199 buys the HealthyLover package, including physical exam and H.I.V. and S.T.D. tests.
Each QuickHealth clinic has one doctor and one or two assistants. The clinics provide referrals, but they don’t provide specialty care — in part to avoid malpractice insurance beyond what primary care requires. Nor does QuickHealth accept insurance: its 14,000 patients are mostly working families and the uninsured, people who would normally seek primary care at the emergency room, says Dave Mandelkern, a high-tech entrepreneur who helped found QuickHealth in 2005. Two QuickHealth clinics are in branches of Farmacia Remedios, a drugstore that caters to Hispanics. By year’s end there will be a clinic in another Wal-Mart, and more are in the works. (The clinics might also prove a boon for Wal-Mart employees; the company has been under attack for its employee-benefit programs.)
David Cutler, a Harvard economist who specializes in health care, says that as long as you can integrate the roles of “real