Newspapers Examine Retail Clinics, Employer-Sponsored Services

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Three newspapers recently published articles related to clinics and accessibility. Summaries appear below.

Richmond Times-Dispatch: The Times-Dispatch on Monday examined how doctors "who have resisted the walk-in model of care ... are jumping on the bandwagon" in response to the growing number of retail-based clinics. According to the Times-Dispatch, competition from retail clinics has led many doctors' offices and hospitals to begin practicing the "urgent-care business or adjusting their practice hours to better accommodate patients," and some private practices "are changing how they practice to take care of people who need to see a doctor the same day they call." Joseph Leming, a physician with Virginia-based Prime Care Family Practice, said, "The market is demanding the shift." Leming said that at his office, each physician now has an afternoon during which no appointments are scheduled so that the practice has openings for patients who need to be seen the same day (Smith, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/17).

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South Florida Sun-Sentinel: The Sun-Sentinel on Sunday examined how retail clinics "have drawn heavy fire from critics who say they undercut a pillar of medicine" -- that patients "do best seeing a doctor who knows them." According to the Sun-Sentinel, critics -- mainly physicians -- maintain that retail clinics "fragment medicine as patients see multiple health providers, none of whom has a complete picture of a patient's health," which "raises the risk of drug interactions or missed clues to a serious illness." However, Michael Howe, CEO of MinuteClinic, said, "Patients need more than one access point to the medical system, and our clinics are here if people need that access" (LaMendola, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/16).

Washington Times: A growing number of U.S. employers, "struggling to stem the rising tide of health care costs," are "providing on-site medical services that used to be found only in doctors' offices and hospitals," the Times reports. According to the Times, because of the costs related to offering an on-site health clinic for employees, the trend is being observed mostly among large employers. A recent survey by the National Business Group on Health found that 23% of employers with more than 1,000 employees offered on-site health clinics, while 29% plan to offer a program by 2008. Over the past few years, more white-collar employers -- including technology and pharmaceutical companies -- are beginning to recognize the benefits of the clinics, according to the Times (Lopes, Washington Times, 9/17).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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