A friend of mine recently had a very sore throat. She knew how to manage her symptoms–lozenges, warm tea and the like. But she was worried she might have strep and would therefore need antibiotics. That should be a simple question to answer with a quick trip to the primary care clinic. Except that her primary care physician was booked, and if she wanted an unscheduled appointment with someone else in the clinic, she was told that she would probably wait a couple of hours.
So she went to a “doc-in-the-box,” which according to the Urban Dictionary is “any doctor at a walk-in clinic.” She paid a modest fee and in a short time received a throat swab. The swab didn’t detect any strep, so she was soon back at home, with a tea kettle brewing and no fear of serious illness.
Primary care clinicians have a new competitor. Minute clinics, retail health clinics and other convenient alternatives are rapidly arising in many parts of the country, meeting unmet demand for timely, affordable care for minor complaints. The biggest players in this field include companies like CVS. These minute-like clinics are a real growth industry.
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