Let the handwringing begin…

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CVS has sought state permission to open MinuteClinics in a number of its retail stores. Minute Clinics provide a limited array of medical services (think simple illnesses, like ear infections and strep throat and vaccinations) at set prices or through insurance. They operate in 19 states and offer an interesting alternative — transparent pricing, convenient locations, and no hassles with doctor’s appointments or emergency rooms.

Not to sound like a shill for the company — there are some questions about how these clinics would affect continuity of care (i.e. its better to have a single point of contact for medical services who has an overview of your entire medical record) and screening for more sophisticated diagnoses (e.g. a case of meningitis may initially present as a fairly benign set of symptoms).

Paul Levy of BIDMC thinks these clinics deserve a shot for several reasons — because they take low acuity work out of high cost settings and the obvious sophistry of those opposing MinuteClinic’s application (see these three posts, here, here, and here).

The Commonwealth has stepped in and begun to write regulations for these clinics. Thursday’s Globe covers the initial conversations and the results are not encouraging — a great deal of concern about data collection and fragmentation of care, combined with lots of goal-post moving. But very little interest in potential consumer interest and the merits of increased access with transparent, affordable pricing.