Over the past several years there has been an increase in popularity of fast service medical clinics found in drug stores or retail chains and many other locations. With this uptick in fast medical service, many large insurance plans are covering visits to these clinics as well as telehealth sites that offer a combination of chat and phone service. Convenience is the major factor when patients choose this type of delivery for medical services.
Of course, family practice offices argue that the quick troubleshooting method used by these clinics and websites does not constitute good medical care because a physician needs to get to know their patient to be able to diagnose and treat the patient in a comprehensive manner that leads to better care over time. The fragmented care that clinics give could result in incomplete health records and an overall decrease in the quality of medical care. What is missing is the big picture. During a single medical examination the practitioner is only getting a snapshot of the patient’s health.
Many within the medical community are beginning to question the motivation behind the quick clinics inside a pharmacy, as an example. A prescription written within one of these clinics is most likely to be filled at that pharmacy. Again, convenience is the main factor. The question is whether this could lead to increases in prescribing and does this create a conflict of interest?
Some physician groups argue that the current web clinics and retail locations are no more than a Band-Aid solution. Feeding this issue is the ongoing lack of interoperability between health record systems. Is it possible to resolve these issues to the satisfaction of the medical community and thus create another layer of medical service that actually improves healthcare?
The rapid increase in regulatory requirements, the rising cost of education and the limitations on insurance payments are causing many physicians to consider options in areas outside of family or general practices. This will create a need for solutions to fill the gap of providing preliminary care for patients.
Quick clinics and first time diagnosis centers could offer convenience and consistency for primary care if it is aided by improved Health IT in the form of well documented persistent care records. As in any transformation in our culture, we should be seeking to leverage the current shift with improving technology to create the next longstanding solution.
What are your thoughts on this new type of medical care?
ES- Owner/operator of Computer Troubleshooters MB