Physicians Adapting to Retail Clinics
Physicians "resistance" to retail-based health clinics "is building," although some doctors are "scrambling to adapt" to the trend as "consumers are taking to the concept," the Washington Post reports. Retail-based clinics, located in stores like Wal-Mart, Target and CVS, "promise quick attention for routine visits ... with no appointments needed," according to the Post.
Few physicians "are convinced this trend is good for patients," particularly "when it comes to children," the Post reports. The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have voiced concern over the trend.
AMA in a statement issued last fall said that it "opposes retail-based clinics as an appropriate source of medical care for infants, children and adolescents and strongly discourages their use."
Robert Corwin, who recently served as a director of AAP, said that children require a "medical home," in which they receive comprehensive, continuous care from a physician who knows the patient over time.
Anne Pohnert, Washington, D.C.-area manager of operations for retail clinic chain MinuteClinic, said, "Many patients would like to get in to see their primary care physician, but when they call, there is no appointment available." She added, "We believe that a visit to MinuteClinic instead of an [emergency department] on a Friday evening for a five-minute strep test is a win-win for patients and insurers trying to save time and health care costs."
According to the Post, "Even their critics concede the clinics are tapping public frustration with traditional delivery of health care," and physicians increasingly are "focusing on how to compete with the new clinics," the Post reports.
Rick Kellerman, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said, "The retail clinics are sending physicians a message that our current model of care is not always easy to access." Kellerman said that physicians, who are concerned about retail clinics "encroaching on the economics of their business," already have begun adapting to the trend by expanding office hours, opening on weekends and offering online scheduling.
AAFP also has launched a national project to test ways to improve patient care and "make primary care practices more welcoming to patients," the Post reports (Mishori, Washington Post, 1/16).
APM's "Marketplace Money" on Friday reported on the increasing presence of health clinics in corporate workplaces. The segment includes comments from William Everret, a physician at Harrah's Lake Tahoe Casino; Steve Montiverde, a Harrah's employee; and James Hummer, CEO of Whole Health Management (Eaton, "Marketplace Money," APM, 1/12).
Audio of the segment is available online.