The ‘Minute Clinic’ Approach To Medicine

Retailers from Walgreens to Wal-Mart to CVS are looking to turn into health care outlets. It’s convenient. Is it good medicine? Plus: using tech to disrupt the healthcare market.

A woman walks past a CVS store window in Foxborough, Mass., Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. The nation’s major drugstore chains are opening more in-store clinics in response to the massive U.S. health care overhaul, which is expected to add about 25 million newly insured people who will need medical care and prescriptions, as well as offering more services as a way to boost revenue in the face of competition from stores like Safeway and Wal-Mart. (AP)

A woman walks past a CVS store window in Foxborough, Mass., Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. The nation’s major drugstore chains are opening more in-store clinics in response to the massive U.S. health care overhaul as a way to boost revenue in the face of competition from stores like Safeway and Wal-Mart. (AP)

While the political world wrangles over Obamacare, everyday health care in this country is on the move – and a lot of it is headed out of the doctor’s office.  Big retailers are moving in big-time.  Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS, Target.  You need a vaccination for chickenpox, hepatitis, shingles, the flu?  They’re there.  Around the corner from toothpaste and cat food, you can get your school physical.  Your cholesterol screen.  Your strep test.  And now, care coming for diabetes, heart  disease, asthma, more.  This hour On Point:  what’s it mean when health care moves to the corner store?

— Tom Ashbrook


Sumathi Reddy, consumer health columnist for The Wall Street Journal. (@rddysum)

Dr. Jason Hwang, internal medicine physician. Co-founder and chief medical officer at PolkaDoc, a California-based health care startup. Author of “Innovator’s Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Health Care.” (@drjhwang)

Dr. Reid Blackwelder, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Tine Hansen-Turton, executive director of the Convenient Care Association. (@tine_nncc)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: Drugstores Play Doctor: Physicals, Flu Diagnosis, and More — “Currently there are about 1,600 walk-in medical clinics across the country in drug and big-box stores and supermarkets like CVS, Walgreens, WAG -1.63% Target and Kroger. The number is projected to double in the next three years due in part to the increased demands of newly insured patients under the Affordable Care Act, according to a 2013 report from Accenture, a global management-consulting firm.”

The Daily Beast: Retail Clinics Are More Common Than Ever, But That Doesn’t Mean You Should Use Them — “On the surface, it may seem as though there is nothing wrong with visiting a retail clinic for concerns about a cough or ear infection. The physical exam isn’t that complicated, and for most of the complaints the management is relatively cut and dried. Why shouldn’t parents bring their kids to the walk-in clinic around the corner?”

The Economist: Health care in America — “In theory, patients with ordinary Medicare and Medicaid coverage can turn up at any clinic and ask to be treated, with the bill sent to the government. In practice, many doctors turn them away because the government’s reimbursement rates are too low. And Medicare does not cover the full cost of all treatments, so most patients buy private insurance to cover the gaps.”

A Look At Start-Up Health Insurance, Oscar

Kevin Nazemi, co-founder of Oscar. (@kevinnazemi)

New York Times: Start-Up Health Insurer Finds Foothold in New York — “Oscar is Silicon Alley’s challenge to the staid business of health insurance. It is trying to use its tech-world skills to provide an easier experience to consumers. Its snazzy website is extremely easy to navigate (typing in ‘I have a stomachache’ will pull up many options of types of doctors or facilities to visit). But what sets it apart, at least for now, is telemedicine, or unlimited phone calls with physicians, and greater price transparency.”


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