Praise the Lord and pass the clinics

Rob Eder

“Moreover, low-cost, convenient clinics offer the best solution for improving access to care for the uninsured, individuals without primary care physicians and workers in need of routine care.” That’s how National Center for Policy Analysis senior fellow Devon Herrick concluded his recent white paper, dated Jan. 14, 2010, “Retail Clinics: Convenient and Affordable Care.”

Hallelujah—someone in Washington finally gets it.

The other NCPA—a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, whose self-described mission is “to provide private sector, free-market solutions to public policy problems”—counts the Roth IRA and health savings accounts among its key policy achievements.

According to Herrick’s research, of 119 million emergency-room visits each year, 55% of them are for non-emergencies. Further, a 2006 survey of California hospitals reported that 46% of ER patients thought they could have been treated by their primary physician if they could have gotten an apppointment.

Herrick also pointed to a recent analysis from Minnesota health officials, which measured providers in the state on the appropriateness and quality of care in the treatment of two of the most common ailments in children: colds and sore throats; MinuteClinic NPs outscored primary care physicians 91% to 86%.

The NCPA holds a lot of hope in the ability of retail clinics to lower costs and improve health care; among its policy positions, the group believes retail clinics should be included in HSAs.

Herrick’s white paper came out too soon to include the recent results of the Take Care Health/Gallup patient engagement study. Drug Store News is the first media outlet to publish the results. Two key takeaways from the story that starts on page 1: Take Care, according to the Gallup study, “strongly engages” 3-out-of-4 of its customers, while the typical Gallup client scores only 1-out-of-5; Take Care’s same-clinic patient counts are up 60% versus last year.

The complete Take Care/Gallup white paper will appear in its entirety in the March edition of The Drug Store News Group’s Retail Clinician magazine.

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