If you don’t like retail clinics, do what they do better

Some days it’s hard to be a blogger. Yesterday, I told a story about how the local Minute Clinic filled a niche by providing timely care on off hours for a simple acute issue. Nevertheless, I got a lot of email accusing me of being a shill for Walmart and selling out the medical profession. Please.

Look, I clearly said at the end of my piece that I don’t think retail clinics are good for everything. I think longitudinal care through a medical home is proper for primary care. But there are limits. There are times when you need to see a health care professional early in the morning, or later at night. Have you tried to get an appointment lately when you’re sick? It’s hard! That’s not all. You often have to wait a while:

So almost 20% of people need to wait at least a week to see a doctor when they are sick. Try getting a same day appointment if you can. Or, even better, try getting an appointment before or after work. Or on a weekend:

Yeah, we beat Canada. But we lose to almost every other country. Almost two thirds of Americans have trouble getting care on nights, weekends, and holidays. You know what? A significant amount of the week is filled with nights, weekends, and holidays. Especially if you don’t want to miss work.

It’s fine to believe that people should try and see the doctor in the office. But if you want that to happen, then you need the office to be available. If retail clinics do a much better job in that respect, you can’t complain when people make use of them. In my example, my kids could be seen at 8AM, before school, without an appointment. That’s useful. If physician offices want that business, they should do the same.


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