SEATTLE MultiCare Health System, which runs the hospitals Tacoma General, Mary Bridge Children’s, Allenmore and Good Samaritan in Puyallup, Wash., plans to open two clinics in Rite Aid stores, in Tacoma and Lakewood, Wash., the first week of August, according to published reports. MultiCare is believed to be the first hospital system in Washington to open in-store clinics.
The clinics will be staffed with nurse practitioners and offer diagnosis and treatment for such common illnesses as strep throat, earaches, flu, bladder infections, bronchitis and allergies, and will provide such services as lab tests and immunizations.
For the consumer, the attractions of the in-store clinics are many: Getting in to see someone without waiting for an appointment or resorting to an emergency room and getting treatment at a known, reasonable cost (many such clinics charge a flat fee per visit; MultiCare’s is likely to be about $60).
Patients are “probably going to be able to get in and out of that retail clinic much quicker than if they went to the emergency room,” said Andrew Baron, primary care medical director for MultiCare Medical Group, who said he hoped patients find they “could be cared for at that lower level of care at the retail clinic and still get excellent service and good value for their dollars that they spend on health care.”
Baron added that MultiCare would be able to create and maintain an electronic medical record for a patient “that ties our retail clinics to our hospitals, our emergency rooms, that ties our retail clinics to our primary care physicians and specialists as well.”
That record will alert doctors and nurse practitioners to medical histories, including previous lab tests, medications and allergies, helping to avoid duplication. “It just provides for a great overall service for the patient because you’ve got that information at your fingertips.”