Retail Clinics Not Redefining Health Care

The Wall Street Journal Health Blog’s Sarah Rubenstein says utilization of the the retail clinic model of health care delivery has only been “modest”:

Only 3.4 million American families, or 2.3%, had used a retail clinic as of 2007, according to survey results.

The study’s authors noted that retail clinics have turned out to be more complex and costly to operate than expected, and some doctors in traditional physician practices are responding by extending their own office hours and doing more same-day scheduling.

[M]ost patients [who visited a retail clinic] said they didn’t have a primary care provider.

Let’s give the retail clinics their due.  I’m sure the providers who staff these clinics are knowledgeable, dedicated professionals who serve an important role in patient care.  But let us not allow our acknowledgement of the good work done at these clinics to obscure the fact that American medicine has entered the Chronic Disease Era.

The future of health care is the management of long-term medical conditions and that is best handled by primary care providers.

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