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'Retail' Medical Care: The Wave Of The Future In Temecula?

“This is the wave of the future in this country,” said Jon Colbert, MinuteClinic district manager of operations for Orange County and the Inland Empire.

Short wait times, quick treatment, and inexpensive service are among the chief reasons some people are choosing to go “retail” when it comes to getting medical care for their non-life-threatening health conditions.

“This is the wave of the future in this country,” said Jon Colbert, MinuteClinic district manager of operations for Orange County and the Inland Empire.

MinuteClinic, which is touted as the largest provider of retail-based medical clinics in the United States, is a division of CVS Caremark Corporation. This summer the company opened a new clinic inside the CVS/pharmacy store at 29610 Rancho California Road in Temecula. It is the second clinic location in the city and only the third in Riverside County, but the company has 11 clinics in San Diego, 10 in Orange County and 11 in Los Angeles.

Not surprisingly, at least one study backs up MinuteClinic’s business strategy.

“Use of retail medical clinics located in pharmacies and other retail settings increased 10-fold between 2007 and 2009,” according to a November 2011 study from the Rand Corporation.

The study found that simple acute conditions may be easily managed at a retail clinic. Conditions like upper respiratory infection, bronchitis, ear infection, flu, and conjunctivitis, were the most common seen at retail clinics, according to the study.

No appointments are required at MinuteClinic and most health insurance is accepted. For patients paying cash or credit, treatment prices are posted at each clinic and on www.minuteclinic.com. The cost for most treatment starts at $79.

Wait times are about 20 minutes at any MinuteClinic, and check-in is via an in-store kiosk, Colbert explained. Prescriptions written by a MinuteClinic staff member can be filled at the CVS store or transferred to any pharmacy outside the CVS company, he added.

Not everyone buys into the retail medical clinic model. A 2008 article in Health Affairs Journal cited concerns about failed business strategies, the ability to deliver quality care and regulatory concerns.

Colbert believes MinuteClinic has carefully negotiated the hurdles, and said now is the time for retail clinics, noting that Southwest Riverside County has the right demographic. According to the Rand study, “The determining factors in choosing a retail medical clinic over a physician's office were found to be age, health status, income and proximity to the clinic. No link between availability of a primary care physician and retail clinic use was found.”

Females between the ages of 18 and 44 were most likely to use the clinics, the Rand study showed.

Perhaps most surprising was that researchers found people in good health and those with median incomes of more than $59,000 were more likely to use retail clinics.

None of this was news to Colbert.

“Our focus is basic simple care. ER and urgent care are bogged down,” he said. “Nobody wants to wait five hours to be seen for a bladder infection.”

Colbert said MinuteClinics will see everyone, but there are limitations. Physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners -- not doctors -- see patients. Urgent medical conditions require referrals or a 9-1-1 call. Additionally, MinuteClinic employees do not treat patients with chronic pain or mental health conditions, Colbert explained.

“We’re not a primary care,” he said, noting that careful documentation and a judicious approach to prescribing medications, particularly antibiotics, are among the company’s protocols.

How this retail trend will affect rising health care costs is unknown, according to the Rand Study.

“Care initiated at retail clinics is 30 percent to 40 percent less expensive than similar care provided at a physician's office, and 80 percent less expensive than such care provided in an emergency room,” the study found.

"If the growth in retail clinic visits that we noted represents substitution for other sources of care, then the increase in retail clinic use could lead to lower costs," said J. Scott Ashwood, the Rand study's lead author. "However, if these visits represent new utilization or induced demand — in other words, patients are seeking care when they would have otherwise stayed home — then costs could increase. Answering these questions requires additional study."

Colleen Garcia September 19, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Love minute clinic. They get right to the point, no waiting around for Doctor appnts and dealing with rude office staffs. The medical personnel are truly remarkable. They actually care about us!
Brenda September 19, 2012 at 10:14 PM
If I have to be seen other then at my regular primary care or specialty doctor for an emergency it unfortunately has to be at the ER. I wish it wasnt. The idea of these store front doctors is a wonderful idea, however, the person has to have insurance! So it will not take the worse, and largest part of unnecessary patients out of the ER that cause the long wait. There are acute care/urgent cares all over town and if you have insurance and a cold, sore throat, even a broken leg in some, be in and out and not wait for up to 12 hours. These places are empty or only a few patients w/insurance. This would be my choice definately over ER and the long wait and sitting with people with all the virus' and bacteria infections. The problem with the ER is that it caters to all the people with no insurance, questionable ID's or NONE, etc. The ER is full of these people with colds, sniffles, sore throat, migraine, stomach flu all these things that can be treated at home for heavenssake. Follow the rules we have all been taught concerning fever, how long the vomiting is for, etc and make a judgement on your childs or your own illness. If you are sick/child is sick go during the day/in the week to your doctor or MED-I-CAL Dr. ER's should send these patients after triage to the nearest clinic/urgent care to end the long wait. Its a party in there, one child sick, Mom, dad, 4 other kids, grandma and grandpa come w/McDonalds. Tylenol/benedryl/childrens cough medicine/ Mon-Fri
Adrian September 19, 2012 at 11:58 PM
The Minute Clinics could alleviate some of burden currently placed on our local ERs. However, I cannot help but think of the phrase: " Sir, the Mc Doctor will see you now" :)
Troy September 20, 2012 at 12:06 AM
"No appointments are required at MinuteClinic and most health insurance is accepted. For patients paying cash or credit, treatment prices are posted at each clinic and on www.minuteclinic.com. The cost for most treatment starts at $79." Brenda, it says for patients paying cash or credit. So no, you do not have to have insurance. Did you even read the article? Doc-In-The-Box's are great! There goes the private sector, making healthcare more obtainable.
KB September 20, 2012 at 06:16 AM
I doubt Brenda did read the article, Brenda is a know-it-all that's why not.
That Temecula Guy September 20, 2012 at 02:00 PM
I think this is a great idea. Capitalism at its best without being boggeed down by politics. I love how uncomplicated this is! It's always so stupid to pay horrible insurances costs every month for may family, only to wait days for an appointment at the local doctor because all the HMOs are sending their subscribers there, have him give us the McTreatment, or just be seen by the nurse, and sent away with subpar attention. I would much rather plunk down cash, given an honest McTreatment from a doctor that will want my business again, because I'm paying. I'll take fast-medical over farm-medical any day, unless it's an emergency of course.
TVOR September 20, 2012 at 02:52 PM
There was a time when everyone payed directly for their medical care. They paid a goat or a calf or other barter for services.
Jerry Simeon September 20, 2012 at 02:54 PM
I guess I'm just old fashioned but how trustworthy will the treatment be compared to a general practitioner or family doctor that knows you? At the risk of sounding foolish, I hope this is for out-patient follow up and maintenance only. Perhaps cursory diagnosis, Dr. prescribed health related shots, medications and recommendation to an actual medical facility when needed. No emergency treatment either..... Not far from "pot" clinics to me.
Temecula resident September 20, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Well, I don't have medical insurance for a multitude of reasons and if I happen to be in need of a doctor Urgent Care is the place for me. They have diagnostic tools there to help ascertain most conditions. But there is a limit to what they can do and are not legally allowed to practice ongoing care of patients. I would think that these new Mc Pharmacy Dr.s are guided by the same laws.
So Cal Girl September 20, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Let capitalism work. Use abortion for example....love it or hate it just look at the financial aspect for a moment. The cost of an abortion is under $1000 at a clinic BC insurance is often not involved and clinics have to stay competitive and affordable to stay in business. The similar procedure D&C for a miscarriage, covered under insurance far outweighs the cost even when performed by the same Dr. These clinics work and many of the urgent cares in Temecula are working as well. Even if you have insurance, people are opting not to use it because they offer affordable visits that cost less than the insurance would charge and many are available 24/7.
Brenda September 20, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Sorry to disappoint KB, I did read it, and THAT part, but I figured it was a given with it in the article so did NOT rewrite THAT also. There are very few people, with no insurance, paying a god only knows how much ER bill when they are done being treated for a cold right? At CVS for the starting price of 79$ is great for those who do not have insurance. However the ER will be the choice for MANY because they dont have to pay anything with no insurance. They will get a bill they will never pay, IF they gave the right identifications.
Lynn September 20, 2012 at 10:29 PM
They are good at minut clinic. I have gone in on a Friday night and have gotten diagnosed wIth a sinus infection, prescribed antibiotics and felt better by Monday -- they always tell you to follow up with your PCP. I have even had them call me to checkup on me after I've been in. For simple things, I prefer them to the doctor provided by my insurance!

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