"Not only is care cheaper, but in some cases, better than ERs, research finds"
It drives me crazy when meaningless studies come out and the media eats it up. Here are some more quotes from an MSN.com piece discussing research on retail health clinics: MinuteClinic, TakeCare and MediMinute:
- "There is no evidence to back up doctors’ warnings that low-cost retail health clinics in hundreds of pharmacies and other stores across the country could expose customers to substandard medical care, researchers said this week."
- “no difference in the quality offered to patients visiting retail clinics, physician offices and urgent care centers.”
- "For some services, retail clinics even did slightly better than hospital emergency rooms, said the researchers"
- “These findings provide more evidence that retail clinics are an innovative new way of delivering health care"
- "If anything, the authors said, the biggest concern about retail clinics — more than 400 of which are operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. alone — is that there aren’t enough of them."
So, now for the real inside information from the study done in the Annals of Internal Medicine. To track the quality of care, the researchers looked at outcomes for three routine illnesses:middle ear infections; pharyngitis, or a sore throat and urinary tract infections — for hundreds of patients each at doctors’ offices, urgent care centers, hospital emergency rooms and MinuteClinic retail clinics in Minnesota. They recorded no significant differences in patient outcomes except in emergency departments, where prescription costs were higher and quality scores were significantly lower than in the other settings. That's it! You read that right. These researchers have the audacity to extrapolate quality and need for a whole industry over three minor indicators. A strep throat needs a swab and rapid strep test. A UTI needs a urine cup and disposable test. An otitis media needs a modicum of experience and then a coin flip to see if you should treat or not. Basically, a monkey can do all that. It kills me that the media ate this up and the owners of these places are going to use this like they have the smoking gun proving they are equal to primary care docs. I wish OM, UTIs, and Strep Throat was all I did. Those are my low-lying fruit that makes my day easy and I squeeze these patients in. Try fixing a 93 year-old with acute memory loss due to a stroke or other metabolic disorder. How about helping the gentleman with high cholesterol, diabetes and depression who comes in with panic attacks and a blood sugar of 319. That's a reality.
This research was a joke. These retail health centers are a joke. You want to dance? Join the real world. My world as a family doctor.