Thousands of new walk-in clinics are planned by some dozen operators as the latest “hot” idea in health care has found its footing and acceptance. This reminds me of Intel CEO Andy Grove’s description of an “inflection point” – “a time in the life of a business when its fundamentals are about to change.” An article in USA Today is a good overview of how the industry is evolving, and the attention they will continue to receive from regulators and researchers.
The American Academy of Family Physicians is encouraging its members to adopt a model of easy access for patients, whether for sick visits or routine physicals. They acknowledge that these clinics can offer certain services to patients and even complement physician practices. Physicians, for their part, should be thinking along these lines as well. For example, as we approach the flu season, practices should promote “Get Shot on Saturday” programs. (I just coined this term). Practices would set aside one or two Saturdays in October and November and invite their patients to walk in and get their flu shot. Low cost (enough to cover the shot cost, then round it up to cover the additional staff time and pizza), special one page forms that will be filed later (forget handling the medical records) – shoot ’em up and out the door. Our pediatricians insist on 15 minute office visits – so you may find us at Costco this year.
Back to the clinics: the biggest factor that will hold them back will probably be the number of available nurse practitioners. Details.