Sunday, June 16, 2013

Will Walk-In Medical Clinics Become Major Blowback Against Government Regulated and Limiteed Physician Care?

LaTi reports:

Nontraditional healthcare sites such as urgent care centers and retail clinics are gaining popularity with consumers looking to avoid the long waits and high prices of the doctor's office or emergency department. These sites, however, are not meant to replace a relationship with a primary care physician, and they're never a substitute for appropriate use of hospital emergency rooms.

Still, the trend is expected to continue as the Affordable Care Act's full implementation looms and concerns grow over a shortage of primary care physicians[...]

Retail clinics are typically staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants who treat ailments such as strep throat, infections, minor wounds and joint sprains. They also offer vaccinations and physicals. Increasingly, Finn says, "people have begun to use the clinics to manage chronic conditions."

Their prevalence has exploded. Visits to the country's three largest retail clinics — CVS Caremark's MinuteClinic, Walgreen's Take Care Health and Kroger's Little Clinic — have skyrocketed in recent years[...]Urgent care centers are usually staffed and often owned by physicians — and sometimes hospitals. Nationwide, there are roughly 9,000 such clinics in operation, with about 300 new centers opening each year, according to the industry trade group Urgent Care Assn. of America.

Urgent care clinics treat infections, lacerations and bone fractures, among other ailments, and conditions that require immediate medical attention but that don't pose a threat to life or limb.

"They are for people who are relatively healthy and have a single problem," says Dr. Alex Rosenau, president-elect of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

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