Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Minute Clinic!

I think this is a brilliant development -- convenient walk-in clinics for patients with minor health problems:
"They offer patients fast access to routine medical services such as strep-throat tests, sports physicals and flu shots. The clinics, which typically charge between $25 and $60 per visit, don't require an appointment and are open during pharmacy hours including evenings and weekends."

The WSJ has an article on the development (account required).

I do think it's unfortunate that these clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners instead of doctors -- are real doctors just too expensive?

However, I think it's great that technology is being used to increase efficiency:
"The clinic model relies heavily on technology to increase the efficiency of care. When patients arrive, they check themselves in at a touch-screen computer terminal -- much like an airline self-check-in kiosk -- where they can swipe a credit card and enter basic information about their symptoms and family history... If the nurse practitioner disagrees with a computer-generated diagnosis, he or she can opt to override the system. When a prescription is written, it will be transmitted electronically to the store pharmacy, or another pharmacy. The system will also create an electronic medical record for each patient that can be transferred to a primary-care physician."

This goes along with my rant from a couple of days ago on urgent care clinics.

I'm not sure if the for-profit model is the way to go, but certainly for-profit organizations tend to be more efficient than not-for-profit counterparts. I'm also not sure if Target or Walgreens is the place for these types of clinics, but I do agree there are synergies with the pharmacy counter. Intriguing idea...

A couple links:
I wonder who funded these guys? Looks like Bain Capital Ventures, Axcel Partners and TGap Venture for Minute Clinic and I would guess that Take Care Health is self-funded -- the CEO sold his travel firm to American Express for a big price several years ago.

Articles on Minute Clinic: