Thursday, February 7, 2008

Taking PCPs Out Back

In a ridiculous turn of events, it appears that Wal-Mart is starting to link their retail clinics with hospitals and other physician offices – in order to have name recognition.

“We have learned that people are willing to receive their health care from the front of a store or the back of a drugstore,” said Dr. John Agwunobi, a medical doctor who is a Wal-Mart senior vice president. “But customers also have said they would rather it be delivered by a trusted name, a local health care practice, a trusted local provider of care.”

Thankfully there are still some people who are actually thinking straight regarding these “trends”:

Medical societies are inclined to be skeptical of the clinics. The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes them, saying they add to fragmentation in the health care system.

The American Academy of Family Physicians and the
American Medical Association have set forth principles for clinics to observe, including sending patients’ medical record to their doctors and finding doctors for patients who do not already have them.

It’s a rather interesting read overall, stating that many clinics have yet to even break even and there are a few that have closed down, leaving NPs and patients alike without much to show for it.

What I would like to know is whether people actually think these are the “way of the future” or a “fix to primary care medicine” as often touted. Yes, it increases a patient's ability to get seen that day, but it also increases the amount of interactions, reduces the medical record keeping by spreading it out over many providers, and runs the risk of patients receiving medications that will interact with drugs they're already taking. When I think about how hard it is to just get a hospital to send over the records from a patient's stay or ER visit, I can't even fathom what places like these will do - regardless of their claim to be connected with your doc. I'm not buying.

We keep dumbing down our healthcare delivery systems all for the sake of convenience, reducing costs, and providing more access. The problem is, when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

If I were a physician and the hospital or clinic I was considering working for showed this level of concern related to medical care, I’d walk right out the door. They're getting ready to take you out behind the dumpsters and shoot you in the head...just as soon as you're not beneficial.


Social Worker said...

these types of outfits are the trend right now, but i don't think they will last. when people realize they won't get the care from them that they can get from their PCP, they'll head back to the PCP's office. The people who might continue to use these places are those who don't have insurance and find these places a cheaper option.

My concern in using one of these places would be continuity of care. I don't take many prescribed medications, but if I did, I'd be concerned about going to a clinic that wasn't familiar with my medical hx.

Bostonian in NY said...

Stop in to your local Wal-Mart to get your physicial, insulin, statins, beta blockers, jalapeno poppers, 5 lb containter of cheezey poofs, 15 liters of soda, weekly carton of cigarettes, and 30 pack of Busch...all at Wal-Mart's famous LOW PRICES!

Next thing you know, they'll set up a Cath Lab between the photo lab and Subway.

Anonymous said...

See, my thing is this, patients want better care, want perfection from their doctors and are willing to sue at the drop of a hat with any complication, but they'll go see someone who has no history about them just to be seen within the hour. Paradoxical behavior if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

As a consumer - I have to say this is very convient. I wouldn't go for Hypertension, but I'd go for strep throat or a sprain.

I guess this is just as disposable as the rest of things on society.

As a working person, parent, and often get sick, I need every convience that life has to offer. INcluding, weekend hours.