Sunday, September 25, 2005

Fast-food style health care: Why not?

An interesting innovation coming from, you guessed it, the MARKETPLACE.

And let's face it, how many of us (especially those of us with kids) have gone to see a doctor knowing full well what they are going to prescribe? For a bacterial infection anybody could go to the pharmacy and grab some anti-biotics. Instead, we are forced into the over-priced public health system.

It's health care, fast-food style.

A flu shot goes for $30. Treating athlete's foot or an ear infection will run you $49 apiece. Treatments will take 15 minutes, with no appointment necessary.

It's all inside a tiny clinic crammed into the corner of the CVS pharmacy at 96th Street and Allisonville Road, one of seven clinics set to open Monday at local CVS stores.

The clinics, owned and operated by Minneapolis-based MinuteClinic, have no doctors on site but are staffed by nurse practitioners trained to diagnose and treat common ailments, from bronchitis to pink eye, and to provide basic services, such as vaccinations.

(...)If all this sounds like a push to make health care as easy as getting a take-out meal, even some clinic workers agree.

"I kind of thought it was fast food for illness," nurse practitioner and new MinuteClinic employee Melissa Chriswell said of her first reaction to the approach. "You know what the cost is up front."

The idea intrigued her, as a nurse practitioner and as a mother who has trekked to the emergency room seeking treatment for minor ailments such as a child's ear infection. So she left her small-town practice in Camden to work in MinuteClinic's Zionsville location.

(...)Some business heavyweights are impressed by the concept of bringing fast-food efficiency into health care.

Many current methods for treating patients "just plain overshoot customers' needs," Clayton Christensen, a noted Harvard Business School professor, wrote in his recent book "Seeing What's Next." It's overkill to treat a child's earache in an emergency room, for example.

He has called MinuteClinic's approach a "disruptive innovation" -- an innovative change that fundamentally can change a marketplace or its pricing structure.

1 comment:

Len Pryor said...

The concept is interesting. After all you don't need or expect that when you pull up to the gas pumps that the mechanic will fill your tank and check the oil.

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