TECHNOLOGY: Quick clinics as part of the Walmartization of health care

For some time various people in health care have been talking about the Walmartization of health care. What they are talking about (and you know who you are Mr. Singerman!) is the development of a low cost generic health care service that could deliver primary and walk-up care very cheaply. Well as iHealthbeat reported the other day, it looks like these quick clinics are indeed turning up in large mall stores, but the first ones are appearing in a Target and Club Foods…..although if they’re a success you know the Beast of Bentonville won’t be far behind. What do these clinics do?

Diagnose and treat several common ailments, provide vaccinations and offer cholesterol and blood pressure screenings. Staffed by nurse practitioners, these "MinuteClinics" use clinical guidelines software to help diagnose and treat patients. The $15 million software incorporates established clinical guidelines and notes patients who come to the clinic frequently with the same complaints so they can be referred to a doctor, said Catherine Wisner, director of national operations for MinuteClinic.

There have also been reports of more and more actual surgery happening overseas, particularly in India and Thailand,and the Brits have been sending patients overseas to buy cheap surgery in France and Spain (at a cheaper marginal cost than building more facilities at home).  So are we at the start of a globalization of surgery, in which the easy stuff will be delivered by low-paid staff backed up by smart computers, and the expensive staff will be contracted out to cheap but well-trained foreigners?  Probably not a reality any time soon, but a trend worth watching.

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