Thursday, July 31, 2008

Clinics Without Doctors

In Washington state, an experiment in accessible health care has been launched. Multicare Express has opened two clinics in the back of local Rite Aid stores, an approach that seems to have legs despite the absence of actual medical doctors in those clinics.

Via Rob Carson of The News-Tribune:

For a flat fee of $59, an advanced registered nurse practitioner will usher you into a 9-by-14-foot exam room (immediately, in most cases) and conduct a routine exam. Lab equipment is limited but adequate for diagnosing common illnesses such as strep throat, earaches, flu and urinary tract infections. The clinics can handle pregnancy tests, adult immunizations and sports physicals.

No appointments. No waiting rooms. No insurance requirements.

No doctors, either, but the ARNPs are fully equipped to diagnose most basic problems and write most prescriptions.

“It’s a new way for patients to enter our system, and it’s a convenience for consumers,” said Kristopher Kitz, a MultiCare business strategist. “Primary care facilities in Pierce County are at capacity, and this is a way to ease that burden.”

Clinics in retail outlets have been opened before -- there are close to a thousand of them across the country -- but despite many advantages, their numbers are actually experiencing a slight drop over this past year. Analysts within the health care industry have stated that the worsening economy combined with the fact that investors did not truly understand the commitment of finances needed to make it work have caused the recent reduction.

Enter MultiCare, an established hospital system that is bringing electronic medical records among other advances to the equation. The fact that they will accept most forms of insurance including Medicare and Medicaid is a major point in their favor especially considering the already reduced pricing.

MultiCare will be holding grand openings at the clinics on August 15 and 16 with free espresso, sodas and an appearance by Tacoma Rainiers’ mascot, Rhubarb.

SOURCE: "CLINICS OPENED AT TWO TACOMA-AREA RITE AIDS- Multicare Express an experiment in health care" 07/30/08
photo courtesy of dpade1337, used under its Creative Commons license

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