I’ve been watching the trend of drugstores (and supermarkets) adding mini-medical clinics inside their stores. It’s an interesting idea, sort of an end-run around all the hassle of trying to get an appointment with your doctor and be seen in a timely manner. Instead, just walk into the nearest drugstore and have your minor ailment checked out. And, it’s supposed to provide an option for people without insurance.This started on the East Coast, and Bartell Drugs first tested it here in Washington a couple years ago, by contracting with a chain called Minute Clinics. Apparently, that didn’t work out so well.
Now, Rite Aid is trying a new angle, at two of its stores in Tacoma. It’s teaming up with a local health-care provider, in this case MultiCare Health System. MultiCare is huge in Tacoma, the dominant medical provider, with four hospitals, and a network of primary care and Urgent Care clinics. MultiCare is staffing the mini-clinics (with ARNP’s — Nurse Practitioners) as one more branch of its network.
According to a story in the Puget Sound Business Journal, these clinics do better (financially) when there’s a shortage of primary care providers — so, outside major cities. In Houston, they’re converting the mini-clinics to telemedicine clinics, because it was too expensive to pay a nurse to sit there all day.
Will this ever be an important trend in medical care? Is it helpful to have a service like this? Or does it just seem like a new type of marketing?