We've all been watching the spread of retail clinics. In Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and CVS, there are clinics that can give you everything from a flu shot to antibiotics.
A recent New York Times article calls it the "mall-ification" of medicine. While consumers often love the convenience, easy access and clear pricing of these clinics-- many healthcare providers worry. Specifically, there are concerns that there is no guarantee of quality and that they contribute to a fragmentation of care.
As Dr. Dave Chokshi, an assistant professor of medicine at New York University, says: “Retail clinics have the potential to disrupt longitudinal doctor-patient relationships and undermine the ‘medical-home’ model of primary care.”
The question that brings up for me is: are retail clinics a cause of the fragmentation of medical care in this country? Or are they simply a symptom of it?
We're seeing more and more care happen outside of the physical medical home of patients. There is more care that happens at school. There is more care that happens at home. There is a lot of care that happens in retail clinics.
In an attempt to gain some control over the dynamic, the American College of Physicians stresses that retail clinics "have a responsibility to communicate with patients’ regular doctors." As we've all seen, however, there is no chance that your regular provider's medical record system will "talk to" the EMR/EHR at the retail clinic. There is also little chance that busy providers are going to catch each other on the phone. The more care is fragmented, the more healthcare collaboration becomes necessary, but almost impossible.
That's why we see telemedicine -- like iClickCare -- as the only antidote to the fragmentation so rampant in healthcare. The last stand, if you will. It's the only solution that will allow medical providers to simply share information and ideas, irrespective of the technology or medical model that the provider is working in.
If you want to give telemedicine a try, you can try iClickCare for free: