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Feb
27

Retail Medicine

Hello from the other side! I’m finally starting to feel like a human being again. It was a brutal week, to say the least, but I’m back to work and school and clinical. No wonder my body needed a break!

The residual effects of my bout with the flu include a simply awful cough. The kind that wakes you up at night. By Saturday afternoon I knew I needed to get serious and I started looking for urgent care clinics. (Side note: What is the point of urgent care clinics that are only open during weekday business hours? Isn’t part of the intention to have someone who will see you when your normal doctor is closed?)

I finally found an interesting place…a clinic that required appointments but was open on weekends for urgent care. You could create an online profile ahead of time and enter all of your insurance/payment information. You could even set up your own appointment through the website. Then you arrived at this little corner store and saw an NP or PA for your woes. They all used Macs and iPads and I felt like I was there to buy something rather than see a medical provider. They sold over the counter medications in their “store front” (probably at drastically marked up prices). During my visit, the provider’s notes projected from a laptop to a flat-screen TV on the exam room wall, so I could see everything they entered. My visit summary was uploaded to my online profile so I could view it at any time. It was all very hip and contemporary.  But for some reason it felt weird.

Maybe because it was so detached from my already-existing network of providers. Or maybe it just felt so non-medical. The clinic shared building space with a sewing store and several apartments, in a hip area of town. The staff wore fashionable tops displaying the company logo, with no sign of scrubs anywhere.

The PA was very personable and knowledgeable. I walked away with an appropriate diagnosis and some much-needed prescriptions to help me survive the next several days. They accepted my insurance and it was much less expensive than an ER visit. It’s not that I distrust the care I received. It just felt so consumerist and retail-oriented.

Have you ever gone to an urgent care like this? What was your impression? Is this part of the future of health care?

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