More Retail Clinics Opening Doors in San Diego County
Firms specializing in retail clinics and other health care providers are gearing up to open clinics throughout San Diego County, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
For example, MinuteClinic is set to open six locations in CVS pharmacies on Wednesday and plans to open 10 other store-based clinics by the end of the year. Lindora Health plans to open three facilities in Rite Aid pharmacies over the next six months, and Palomar Pomerado Health is in talks with Albertsons about opening two clinics in stores in north San Diego County early next year.
The clinics are able to offer some health care services at a lower cost than traditional physician visits by using lower-cost staff, relying on electronic health records and limiting the services available.
About 600 retail clinics operate nationwide, and in a report for the California HealthCare Foundation, consultant Mary Kate Scott predicted that 6,000 clinics could be open by 2012.
However, California regulations governing oversight of nurse practitioners and other allied health professionals and ownership of health care facilities have limited the spread of retail clinics in the state.
Michael Howe, CEO of MinuteClinic, says his firm will push the Legislature to increase the number of allied health professionals that a doctor can supervise.
Beyond the regulatory issues, physicians harbor concerns that retail clinics will not catch more complex conditions in patients, and some argue that the clinics are an inadequate substitute for an established relationship with a physician (Darcé, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/7).