The Boston Globe yesterday published an editorial arguing that in-store clinics are no quick fix:
CVS’s basic premise for the concept is that people’s lives have become too busy for doctors visits, and that patients are too impatient to wait the days or weeks it takes to get an appointment. So customers can head to the clinic at their local CVS, the first of which is proposed for Weymouth, and for $59 and a wait of under 20 minutes, they can get to see someone who can prescribe medication. All this, and no appointment necessary.
Although the author suggests such clinics are simply a symptom of society’s increasing addictions — with getting things quickly, with being connected all the time — it may be a sign of something more simple: businesses are interested in discovering new ways of getting money from you.
I say that because I’m grappling with what exactly is the problem these types of in-store health clinics solve.
Cost? Not really, since you have to pay out of pocket and the cost, while cheaper than an ER visit, is definitely more expensive than most people’s co-pay to see their regular doctor.
Quality of care and diagnosis? Hardly, since these clinics aren’t staffed with any specialists, and in many cases, no doctors. If you want a higher-quality healthcare experience, you’re better off seeing your regular doctor (who knows your history, background, previous treatments, allergies, medication preferences, etc.).
Convenience? I guess this is what these clinics are mainly supposed to address. But how convenient is it to wait up to 20 minutes to be seen while shopping at Walmart? Now, I’ve been in doctor’s waiting rooms where I’ve waited for 15 minutes in one room, then another 10 or 15 minutes in the second room (why do they do that!?!?).
Since I changed doctors a few years ago, however, I’ve never waited more than 10 minutes in the first waiting room and not at all in the second (the doctor calls me when he’s actually ready to see me!). The take-away from my experiences has is that it all depends on the particular doctor you have. If you’re having a poor quality waiting experience with your current doctor, let him or her know that it’s serious enough for you to consider changing doctors.
Because if it’s really simply about convenience, then you’re better off waiting the additional 10 minutes or whatever to see your regular doctor. So you have to make a trip specifically to the doctor’s office? That’s not “inconvenient,” that’s life. We do it for every other professional and business in our lives. We go to the bank to cash checks, we go to the post office to post a letter, we go to the dentist to have our teeth cleaned, and we go to the doctor’s when we have a health concern.
Maybe I’m missing something (uninsured folks, perhaps?), but I just don’t see the value of these clinics, with few exceptions.