Drugstores Becoming Your Next Doctor’s Office

In what may be a positive trend in health care, major department stores and drug chains are becoming walk-in clinics for what may be millions of patients.

A Costco pharmacist

“Pharmacy giant CVS Caremark Corp., Target Corp. and other retailers are aiming to help alleviate the doctor shortage with hundreds of walk-in clinics run by nurses to treat ear infections and other routine ailments and increasingly help people suffering from chronic illnesses. These companies, after struggling to turn a profit from these clinics for the last decade, are now eager to capitalize on an influx of newly insured patients,” writes Chad Terhune, in the Los Angeles Times.

In California, he said, “nearly 3 in 4 California counties already lack a sufficient number of family physicians, and by 2020 the U.S. faces an estimated shortage of 40,000 primary-care doctors with no way to remedy that in just a few years.”

“As a result, more consumers may soon find themselves getting their checkups and help in managing their high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes at the local pharmacy or Wal-Mart as the Affordable Care Act extends health insurance to 30 million people and puts unprecedented strain on an already fragile network of primary care.”

I consider that positive because much of the reason health care is so expensive is that too many people don’t receive preventative care and instead use the emergency room.

By having readily available nurse practitioners and physicians assistants many of the minor ailments and medical issues can be treated before they require expensive care.

Costco warehouse clubs already have pharmacists who provide vacinations.  Hiring an RN or other health care workers would make a lot of sense.

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1 Comment on "Drugstores Becoming Your Next Doctor’s Office"

  1. I agree with your article. Although nothing will replace a PCP (primary care doctor), it is sometimes a real hassle to see my regular doctor (who has an APRN and to PA-C on staff who see the routine issues such as Strep and Sinusitis). Even with those on staff, it can be two days before I see a doctor within the practice. I recognize that for blood pressure or diabetes — which can be chronic — it is probably better to see your PCP. I don’t mind going to a clinic for the occasional Strep test. I also don’t mind going to Sam’s Club for a flu shot either. I can still upload any paper work into my electronic medical record with my PCP by scanning paper work or just mailing it to them.

    Now the true question… why is Federal Blue Cross and Blue Shield treating walk-in clinics as less of a doctor’s visit. They are almost treating an in-network walk-in clinic as if it is out-of-network and making you cough up a lot of money over a normal co-pay. Yes, walk-ins usually cost 10 or 20 dollars more, but if your doctor isn’t available, it seems as a walk-in is better than emergency room!

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