DPC Friend of Foe? Drop-in retail clinics a growing trend in medical care.

Threat or Opportunity to DPC and Concierge Medicine Offices: Walk-In Clinics?

By Wayne Faulkner

The recent opening of a Wilmington drugstore’s drop-in clinic is part of a growing trend where consumers seek more access to and perhaps cheaper prices for basic health care services at the retail level, experts say.

As most people can attest, aches and pains don’t necessarily correspond to doctor’s hours and that has spurred the growth of urgent care facilities staffed by physicians that are a step away from care at your primary doctor’s office.

Emergency room visits are expensive, frowned upon by insurers, and come with waits that can be hours long.

But another model of care – a step down from urgent care – has blossomed across the country and showed up here earlier this month when CVS opened its first MinuteClinic in Wilmington. Two other area locations are set to open soon – in Leland at Brunswick Forest later this month and in Carolina Beach in November.

Such services are known in the industry as “retail medicine,” and clinics like CVS’s are projected to double in number in the next three years, according to one study.

Minor ailments

MinuteClinics, which CVS Caremark acquired in 2006, offer basic care in a retail setting – not unlike waiting for a prescription to be filled.

At MinuteClinic, patients can get treatment for such ailments as strep throat, sinus infections and minor bumps and bruises, said Marlene Wallace, a nurse practitioner and regional clinical practice manager at the CVS store at 6901 Market St. She heads MinuteClinics in Wilmington and Fayetteville.



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