In a corresponding editorial, Dr. Edward Schor of the Lucille Packard Foundation for Children’s Health in Palo Alto, California wrote that such decisions may become more commonplace: “Retail-based clinics reflect systemic changes occurring within the health care industry to which pediatric practices must adapt.” Retail clinics, which are typically run by nurse practitioners and physician assistants, are not only convenient, but cost patients about 30% to 40% less than office practices
Retail clinics, staffed primarily by nurse practitioners and armed with new technology, hold all the promise this piece ascribes to them. They can bring down costs and rationalize our heath system.If we didn’t know better, we would say that this is a sign that the “retailizing” of health care is already well on its way to becoming the dominant trend it should. But of course, when it comes to the dense and confusing network of entrenched interests that is our health care system, it’s never that simple:
The lower cost and increased convenience of the clinics are putting pediatricians on the defensive, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) formally opposes them as an appropriate venue for care of infants and children. AAP officials question the quality of care patients receive, stemming from the fact that children may see different practitioners at each visit.
The AAP has at least half a point. More work needs to done in figuring out how to coordinate major care in a doctors office with minor care in a retail clinic. Nevertheless, the relentless opposition of groups like the AAP to the changes our system so badly needs is discouraging. If we get this right, clinics could be just the beginning. As the article notes, in-person clinics and doctor’s offices could eventually be supplanted by electronic visits, if we have the vision and will to make it happen.[Walgreens image courtesy of Getty. CVS image courtesy of Wikipedia. Pills image courtesy of Shutterstock]