Comment: medical advice and drugs under one roof

August 23, 2007

Do you think health clinics at pharmacies fill a need? Is there a conflict of interest in getting health care advice at the same location that sells you your medicine?

As many as 2,000 health clinics will open at retail locations by 2008. The growth of these clinics comes amid a shortage of family physicians.

The American Medical Association is asking state and federal authorities to investigate whether there is a conflict of interest.

Some bloggers, like Every Patients Advocate, think that organizations critiquing these clinics worry about it cutting into their bottom line. What do you think?


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Of course it is a good thing. Many people cannot afford going to a doctor in a clinic. That’s why the AMA is opposed to it.

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive

The blood sample screening that we have used for 2-3 years provided by the statewide grocery store chain allowed us to have full access to our medical history through the screening reports…something doctors don’t provide unless you push. Through the tracking of the rise in PSA my husband eventually went to Mayo Clinic and had prostate surgery for cancer. We don’t usually go to doctors … don’t trust them or the drugs they routinely prescribed … the screening may have saved his life. We totally believe in managing our own health care and the access through the retail store makes it much less threatening. It is the right thing, if you have the ability to think for yourself.

Posted by Darlene Wills | Report as abusive

My Nurse-Practicer does very well. She does no heart surgery.

Posted by Glenn | Report as abusive

I think that it would help resolve the health care crisis. It would ease the burden on Emergency Room, and provide affordable health care to millions that do not have insurance.
People would seek treatment before they are at deaths door. If you have a great job, with good benefits, on state insurance programs or fall into the umbrella of medicare…you can get the health care that you need. If you are working for a min-mod wage and your employer only offers catastrophic coverage…this is who it would help.
Combine it with Walmarts $4 prescription plan.
I lived in an area where I could walk into a chiropractors office give him $20 and he would adjust my back. He felt that offering services for cash would eliminate the need to hire staff to chase ofter the insurance companies. ..and you could walk in anytime with out an appointment.
This is what this country needs. Spending less emphasis on money and more on health care.

Posted by Beth | Report as abusive

Absolutely fills a need.

While it would be nice if everyone had a private physician they see once a month, in the real world most clinic patients would NOT be seeing any other physician period.
The clinic would be their one and only contact with a physician. To not have a clinic available means that tens of thousands die a needless early death every single year.

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive

This is an excellent idea as long as the prescription is provided to the patient with the understanding that they do not have any requirement to fill it at the same location. Many will feel this makes life easier, one stop health care to match one stop shopping.

It will be a great advantage for smaller communities or inner city where most health care is not found easily. As well as having a doctor on sight to review with any questions you may have about your prescription

However, how comfortable will you be getting your health care by a Wal-Mart associate….we all know they strive for the best quality right?

Posted by Quinton | Report as abusive

I would visit one in a heartbeat (no pun intended!). We are a healthy, upper middle class family with excellent health insurance. A few weeks ago my son fell at an amusement park and sustained a significant cut on his chin. The first aid folks who work there bandaged his chin up, told us it needed stitches, and refered us to a local hospital’s ER for treatment. We arrived at 6:00pm. My 22-month old son was crying, tired, hungry and nearing his 7-pm bedtime.

WE WERE NOT SEEN UNTIL 10:15pm. What’s worse, the triage nurse who saw us about a half hour after we arrived never checked the wound under the bandage. Four hours later, when an ER nurse finally brought us in, she informed us that my son’s wound only required Dermabond (a skin “glue” that today replaces what would be a minor stitch job). It took her all of 15 seconds to smear the area with Dermabond and send us on our way. Yes, FOUR HOURS AND $400 later, we went home…

Now you tell me, wouldn’t you go to a nurse practitioner at a place where you’d only get charged 45 bucks?

One final point: when my kids visit their pediatricians unexpectedly for minor illness or mishaps, they are often seen by a nurse practitioner since the MD is often completely booked up. I’m sorry but I just don’t see the difference…

Posted by Momof2 | Report as abusive

Business in America has no social consciousness. Therefore, the People, through the legal process ,ust defend themselves. A clinic in a pharmacy is a sales outlet for pharmaceuticl products.
If medical schools taught Medicine rather than the business or technology of medicine, there would be enough family doctors.

Posted by Marc O’Sullivan | Report as abusive

I’ve been waiting a long time to for health care to come to WalMart– reasonable prices, good service, computer diagnosis, and my(MY!)records stored on line accessible to anyone who needs them to improve my and everyone’s health care. And if I’m really sick, I want to be able to see a health care professional before I perish.
As for conflict of interest, every time I see my internist he wants to start me on a new drug habit–pills I don’t really need. And he always gives me free samples–try it, you’ll like. He should be working the parking lots of highschools. The AMA is more in the pocket of the pharmaceutical companies that any pharmacy.

Posted by MiddleAgeMale | Report as abusive

There has been pharmacies in clinics and hospitals for years. Why not have the opposite. They enjoy the economy of scale and can offer better pricing on many services and drugs.

Posted by Terry | Report as abusive

I have to ask, What is the conflict of interest exactly? The medical examiner is not the pharmacist and each would still act independantly and professionally. Are people concerned that more medications will be prescribed in this setting as compared to a remotely located clinic’s physician treating an identical condition? Thats absurd. Quite possibly more medications are needed in some cases and not prescribed due to questions concerning the drugs availability and this situation could be avoided. I see no true negatives in this arrangement, only convienience and the potential for comprehensive medication availability knowledge being part of treatment.

Posted by Darian Busby | Report as abusive

i have no ins. and my kids are effected by that so if it is affordable for a clinic like one i can afford and go to for colds and just the basic go for it , thats why i shop at wallmart becouse my husbands diabedic supplys are cheaper by 100 dollars who can afford the health care we have to day not this small bussiness owner trying to make it without medical and yet can’t afford normal ins.

left out in the cold

Posted by henry burdette | Report as abusive

Yes, I think it is a good plan. Especially for simple things that a person likely may not schedule a full blown doctors visit for. e.g. blood pressure checks, blood tests for cholesterol etc. If the volume is high enough the costs come down and the proactive (cost effective), early diagnosis I think would be of great benefit. I would also include dermatology – from kids with acne to adults with fears of skin cancer. A reasonable knowledgeable person should be able to identify an ordinary mole or pimple or flag something that requires a more serious look.

I hope the time spent on this does some good.
Thank you,
Lee Treffinger

Posted by Lee Treffinger | Report as abusive

I use the Nurse Practioner at the local drug store. She is not affiliated with the drug store, she is affiliated with one of the local hospitals. I think those who are “critiquing” are worried about thier own “bottom dollar”. The NP works for me, convient(sp), cost effective and she listens to what my health issues are, I don’t have to wait 3-4 weeks for an appointment.

Posted by Sylvia | Report as abusive

If there is a shortage of family physicians, perhaps the AMA should allow more candidates into the fold. More physicians, less money to go around. This is the basis for the whole problem, isn’t it?

The only conflict of interest that I can foresee is that of income. More accessable healthcare means more competition from the traditional health-care scenario. Perhaps the real question on the table should be…Is the A.M.A. a monopoly?

Posted by Les | Report as abusive

I think it’s a good idea! People going to the pharmacy to get medication might consider seeing the doctor if there’s one beside it. What will benefit both parties is if the Clinics buy their supply of medicine from the pharmacies and the pharmacies recommend sickly customers to the clinic. That way, it’s a “win-win” situation!

Posted by Yen Yi | Report as abusive

I think it’s a bit of a loaded question. Whenever there is money to be made, there is always the possibility of a conflict of interest. And in fact, it will be less of a problem in this case since these clinics are probably going to be very well regulated. To put things in perspective, nobody is cracking down on clothing stores for utilizing sales tactics to get customers to buy things. Having salespeople on commission is a huge conflict of interest.

While actual checkups are an ambitious leap forward, a similar thing has been successfully happening in France and Switzerland for years. There, pharmacists can offer first aid treatment.

I think in this case with our crummy health care, it will be a good relief to over-crowded hospitals and smaller doctor’s offices to visit a physician in a pharmacy for simple health care issues. Since there is always the risk of a conflict of interest, and no more I think in this case, the AMA and “federal authorities” should be spending their time formulating a plan to regulate these health clinics rather than trying to figure out a most obvious answer to a question.

Posted by Nick Bankhurst | Report as abusive

I am British, and have just recently returned from a 2mth stay in America. During this time, I had to go to the ER for an ear infection and they prescribed ear drops at $135! My ear didn’t get any better and my nurse at camp recommended that I go to the Minute Clinic where I could be seen for $60. Unfortunately, she couldn’t help me and I had to go back to the ER, where I had to get my ear syringed. Now I’m in the process of trying to claim back the costs on my insurance.

The NHS is a wonderful system. I cannot for the life of me understand why healthcare has to cost anything, and if clinics in pharmacies can reduce costs ever so slightly, I’m all for it!

Posted by Gill | Report as abusive

It is about time that medicine comes back to the people

Posted by Fred | Report as abusive

Get rid of pharmacies and all their crap drugs and you won’t need ‘health-care’ workers.

Most drugs, if not all, are useless and/or toxic. People are better off without them and fending for themselves in other more potent ways, i.e. the best diet they can afford.

Posted by Phred | Report as abusive

This is another method by big companies to make more money through healthcare. Nothing will change.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

Mom, The reason you’re sitting in the ER for 4 hours or more is because ER is filled with illegals getting free medical aid.
This is only another way for illegals to suck our system dry.
and Gill, why medical care should cost anything?
Give me a break. Do you work for free?
Geez Louise!@! Stupidiy reigns!

Posted by mary brown | Report as abusive

Healthcare is sick. The distrust of physicians has come, in part, from the paternalistic shrowd of secrecy that used to govern the doctor visit. Additionally, insurance companies have demanded high premiums and offered low payouts while courts appear eager to award payback to those not receiving the latest state-of-the-art.
Working in pediatrics, the largest insurance company in the state of SC pays $30 for the $115 charge. Providers can no longer afford to practice. It costs hundreds of thousands to be trained, oodles in malpractice while reimbursement falls to record lows. Practices close while “clinics” pop up in grocery stores. This will serve the acute needs of a few, but the holistic component of healthCARE will suffer. In the end, you may fare better with WedMD and a box of Tylenol.
Until legislation regulates the insurance empire, medicine will continue to be driven by the dollar. Then, for the offerer from the UK praising “free medicine” (NHS), you will get exactly what you’ve paid for.

Posted by Buddy, MS, PA-C | Report as abusive

Hi I am a nurse and i think this is a great idea, i can not tell you how many people come to the er everyday for minor things such as colds, ear infections, sinus infection, migranes etc… and are charged an arm and a leg when all they need is aprox. 5 mins of a physicans time to confirm whats wrong and to have a perscricption written, instead what they get is a 1-2 hour wait in the er wating room only to get brought back to see the doctor and wait another 1-2 hours, only then to see the doctor for 5 mins, be handed a presciption and be sent on their way with a large bill, and they do all this because the are to sick to go to work but a majority of business want a doctors note but they also can not afford a private doctor due to lack of insurance so they are stuck going to the er which overcrowds the er and causes the long waits, it a repetitive cycle that needs to be broken, as a nurse I recognize the need for this service as a mother I recognize the need for this service and a person who also gets sick and does not want to go to the er and wait 3-4 hours i recongize a need for this service. we all know valuable our time is so i am all for something thatwill allow me to be seen by quality medical pesonel, get my perscription and get me home as quick as possile because I know when i’m sick the last place I want to be is stuck in a hospital for a long period of time, I want to be at home in bed and not have to worry about how I’m going to pay for my doctors visit after missing time off from work,so i am all for

Posted by SMARTONE | Report as abusive

I am completely for this trend. I never go or take my kids to the doctor unless we absolutely have to. It is so frustrating to waste an entire morning in a waiting room(yes we have an appointment) for a no-brainer sinus infection or ear infection or you call and they can’t see you for a day or so. Not fun with a sick kid! I have been using Urgent Care Walk in centers for a while now. It is time the medical field had some competition. The only concern would be overuse of antibiotics. Like so many others, I never see a doctor usually…just a PA.

Posted by Penelope | Report as abusive

Having people get checked out for illnesses and having the drug store in the same building is a terrible idea. The owners of the company profit off both ends so of course the doctors are going to push some sort of prescription drug on the customer the person really doesn’t need and is highly addictive. This plan’s sole purpose is to make more money off of people and to control a higher percentage of the market share at one location.

Posted by James Powell | Report as abusive