Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Retail Clinics Outperform MDs for Minor Illnesses

No state has more experience with retail clinics than Minnesota, the birthplace nearly eight years ago of MinuteClinic, which still dominates the field even as competitors crowd in. An independent, nonprofit coalition of doctors, insurers, consumers, and employers called MN Community Measurement annually rates health clinics' and doctors' practices statewide.

The most recent report card from the group, based on data from 2006, awarded MinuteClinic the highest marks in Minnesota for treating children 2 to 18 years old for sore throats, giving it a score of 99%. The lowest grade: 26% for a doctors' group.

Quoted from today's Boston Globe article "Upbeat Diagnosis for Clinics," following up on the controversy in Massachusetts about CVS planning to open dozens of medical clinics. More here:

Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston and other critics have warned of inferior care driven by an unquenchable profit motive. He and others predicted that in the name of convenience, patients would sacrifice an ongoing relationship with a doctor.

But interviews with a dozen independent researchers, insurers, and regulators in other states painted a far more positive portrait. Increasing evidence, they said, suggests that when patients are treated for sore throats and other minor illnesses at retail clinics, the care may actually be as good as - if not better than - in more traditional doctor offices.


At 1/22/2008 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an engineer and in the past, the National Society of Professional Engineers stated that it was against the engineers code of ethics to attempt to outbid another engineer for a job.

The government stepped in and made the society strike out that guideline and claimed it went against the spirit of free enterprise.

It is exactly that type of thinking that is necessary to lower the costs of healthcare in the US. When asked by a reporter for the Economist about the role the AMA (American Medical Association), should play in cutting healthcare costs, the AMA spokesperson scoffed and said, "we are a profession, not a business."

Why the US government allows the AMA to continue doing what it does is beyond me.

At 1/22/2008 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why the US government allows the AMA to continue doing what it does is beyond me."

It could be money and politics.

At 1/22/2008 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know. I mean it is obviously politics, but I don't suspect any corruption. It is just that politicians do not want to go after revered professions such as doctors and farmers. And this idea that healthcare should not be a business is ingrained into the beliefs our society.

At 1/22/2008 5:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Money is not necessarily corruption, but it is power. EVERYONE is part of some type of special interest group, and favorable legislation tends to favor the most powerful.

Since most federal politicians with the exception of the President (who is limited to two terms) want to make politics a career, that's the reality that has to be dealt with if you want to advance your position.

At 1/22/2008 6:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I had to laugh when I read that these clinics prevent people from forming long term relationships with their doctors. Are you kidding? Most doctors see you for about 10 minutes at most. Mine still introduces herself to me every time I go even though I have been seeing her for 4 years. I think these clinics are a great idea. They take care of minor illnesses and free up doctors to spend time on patients who need serious medical attention. It also frees up ER rooms.

At 1/22/2008 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

deni, I wish I could laugh at things like that and maybe as a young person who is not dependent on healthcare right now I should, but it just makes me so angry.

At 1/23/2008 8:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I've worked in health care for many years now - I have a soap box about the size of Texas. It's a broken system, but no one wants to fix it. Doctors whine about it, but they don't want to fix it because they would have give up control. Insurance companies don't want to fix it because they'd have to go out of business. Health care manufacturers certainly don't want to fix it because they'd have to give up huge profits. Patients don't want to fix it because then they'd have to take responsibility for their health and they wouldn't have the insurance company to blame. And of course politicians are not going to try to fix it (not that they can really fix anything) because they'll be skinned alive (Remember Clinton's stab at it? She's still being vilified for even trying).

So stay angry - if more people got angry we'd might see some real change.

Either that, or "never get sick and never get old and never get poor."


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