RediClinic? Huh? Where did this come from?
RediClinic is opening walk-in clinics staffed by NPs in WalMarts and Duane Reades around the country. Their biggest investor is the Revolution Health Group, a company founded by AOL Co-founder Steve Case. Their CEO's message on the website starts by saying that, "Healthcare is one of the largest and fastest growing industries in our country, accounting for more than $3 trillion in sales..." Ok, great, this is the first line from a clinic that is supposed to be about "high-quality, low cost routine healthcare." Oh, but they don't want a bite of this, because they're producing so-called "'convenient care'" centers through their RediClinics. They're calling it "consumer-driven healthcare," but it actually comes down to retail healthcare. Yes, ladies and gents, you are witnessing the retailization of medical care. Would you like some hair gel and shampoo with your flu shot? How about some toothpaste with your health assessment?
But seriously, let's analyze this. These clinics are staffed by NPs. They don't mention where the supervising physician is. In fact, some state laws use the word supervising loosely to mean -- easily accessible via telephone. So the physician doesn't have to be in the clinic to examine a questionable case. Ok, fine, you can say that this is only routine simple care. What about headaches? Will these NPs know who to send to the ER? What if it's a subarachnoid hemorrhage? Or a brain tumor? Will they know? Maybe routine care is fine. But they've gone beyond that. They talk about providing "stay well services," marketed as Men's and Women's Health Assessments and Diagnostic Screening. Wait a second, should I be hanging up my stethoscope and retiring from medicine? They apparently are going to do everything I do, and for a cheaper cost, because NPs cost less than MDs. I'm curious to know how quality will be maintained?
Peeved!? Yes, I am. They're infringing on my territory, and falsely marketing an ability to take care of more complex issues in medicine by promising health assessments.
What if a patient has a neurological issue? Will they be ordering MRI's? What neurologist will they be referring their patients to? And how about continuity of care? I find a company delving into healthcare, run by mostly corporate types, to be a dangerous thing, for corporations care about numbers -- the bottom line is cost, no matter how much they may say they care about quality. What quality is there in marketing drive-by, quick-fix healthcare. I truly believe this is dangerous. It's almost like a health insurance plan now also becoming a medical provider. Where is the RediClinic's greatest interest -- cost or standard of care? I understand the American public has been accustomed to quick, drive-through consumerism, but this is a dangerous mentality to pass on to medical care. Ever since HMOs tried to rear their ugly face in this country the quality of care has suffered. What looks too good on the surface cannot be that good. I don't think this is my Trojan Horse, nor that for the rest of primary care physicians in this country, but I ask, "Should we be standing by idly watching this happen?"
Apparently, we're already involved. Can you hear the the dark side of the force calling? Now this is frightening to me -- the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has signed an official agreement with the RediClinic for adhering with its "desired attributes of retail health clinics." Et tu, Brutus? That the AAFP is encouraging the formation of these clinics is disheartening. That this is going to be sold to the American public as good care is disgusting. One thing is treating a simple sore throat, another thing is having an NP do a routine health screening. What if the cholesterol is elevated? What if there are EKG abnormalities? Will they recognize them? Again, who will they refer to? And how do they know the specialist they may refer to takes good care of patients when you are literally popping into the neighborhood without any established relationships and opening the equivalent of the McDonald's of healthcare down the corner.
I hope some good will come of this for the uninsured. Or maybe we can learn from what Dr. Vic Wood is doing. Read: Crisis in Healthcare: Does Vic Wood have the answer?
The RediClinic has signed agreements with Aetna and Humana. Apparently, UnitedHealthcare is also joining the bunch. It's disturbing. Will they use this as an excuse to further lower our
reimbursements? Is the PCP being slowly squeezed out of medicine? Will we be facing a slow death of 1000 years in the belly of the insurance giants?
"Ho, ho, ho....ha, ha, ha....Goodbye PCP's....Your measly mind tricks won't work on the mighty Jabba, the RediClinic CEO"