Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What a Wonderful World...

As nurse practitioner-staffed retail clinics continue to open and expand (despite what many recent reports say otherwise), they continue to fall victim to physician-centric comments undermining the competence and professionalism of other health care providers. Am I surprised? Not at all. It has all come to be so routine now. Take for example, a recent article written in the Topeka Capital Journal. The end of the article quotes a pediatrician's take (by the way, the American Academy of Pediatrics opposes the use of retail clinics - whatever that means) on why one shouldn't use retail clinics. The article goes on to say:

As for people who don't have insurance, Cain said there is always a place for them.
"We have plenty of places for people to get care," Cain said. When looking for a physician, Cain advised finding someone who has flexible hours and cares about patients. "I would find a doctor who can provide you with a good medical home," she said. "We specialize in the treatment of children. It's a whole different level of service you're getting."

That sounds like quite the dream world.

I'd like to know what places the uninsured or underinsured can go for care. Does that mean emergency rooms, urgent care centers, under-staffed and over-worked departments of health?

The term "medical home" gets thrown around a lot these days. A true medical home, would be a place that coordinates care, treats conditions and offers preventative care with the right team of providers at the right times and places. It would not mean a solo practitioner as the quote above suggests.

It has become commonplace to end these types of articles with a jab to nurse practitioners. Here they talk about the "level of service" which is exactly that, a jab. Nurse practitioners and those in retail health have and continue offering high quality, compassionate and cost-effective care. Of course this must make some worry since a recent report from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health stated:

"Nearly two-thirds of the parents whose children had already used a retail clinic report they were likely to use a clinic again."

Everyone knows that there are plenty of patients to go around. There are good reasons why people are choosing to receive care from a retail practitioner. Those include: convenient walk-in hours & locations, easy access to a healthcare professional, transparency in pricing, print outs of each encounter given to patients at the conclusion of visits and quality care to name a few. The clinics would cease to exist if the care rendered was substandard - and that doesn't appear to be happening. Maybe we can start working together in the interest of patients to attain the highest quality of care rather than protecting turf. Much can be learned from each other. Oh, if it were only that easy. What a wonderful world it would be.

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