Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Retail-based Clinics

They don't offer services for diabetes care yet, but keep your eye on them. These retail-based health care centers may one day be able to augment basic chronic-care services typically provided by primary care physicians.

In the mean time, if you're in the market for an easily accessible, no-appointment-needed, walk-in clinic - many of which offer wait times of less than 15 minutes - a MinuteClinic, RediClinic, or Take Care Health Center may be for you.

The clinics have cropped up in retail outlets and drugstores across the country, including Wal-Mart, Walgreen's, Rite-Aid, and most notably CVS Pharmacies which purchased the large network of MinuteClinics in July of this year.

They're staffed by certified family nurse practitioners and physician assistants who use a standard protocol to diagnose and treat basic ailments such as ear and sinus infections, poison ivy rashes, and other minor skin infections and burns. They can dispense vaccines for the flu, pneumonia, or hepatitis. Many offer blood sugar and blood pressure screenings.

Since there's usually a pharmacy on the premises, prescriptions written by qualified clinic staff can be filled immediately.

The clinics accept most major health plans including Medicare. They strive to be affordable even if you don't have health insurance.

The trend of retail-based clinics is in its infancy. Time will tell whether it grows to fill a gap for basic services in health care that are less time-consuming and more affordable to the consumer while staying profitable for operators.

To find a retail clinic in your area, a list of treatments offered and insurance accepted, visit:

Take Care Health Centers