Prominent articles on retail clinics published in the past 3 weeks range from the sublime to the ridiculous.
The Sublime: Retail Clinic Visits and Receipt of Primary Care, Rachel O. Reid, J. Scott Ashwood, Mark W. Friedberg, Ellerie S. Weber, Claude M. Setodji and Ateev Mehrotra, Journal of General Internal Medicine, 11/1/12), Ateev Mehrotra’s latest report on retail clinics, which examines retail clinics’ impact on individuals’ relationships with primary care physicians. While the study did produce some empirical evidence that retail clinic usage might diminish an individual’s engagement with a primary care doc, Mehrotra et al take pains to examine the tenuous nature of that evidence at present. For instance, the research team urges that “[f]uture studies should assess the impact [of retail clinic usage on primary care MD relationships] over the longer term” given that the study only looked at subjects’ treatment visits to clinics and/or primary care doctors over a 12 month span.
We feel too many of the articles on the Mehrotra report belong on the Ridiculous end of the Sublime/Ridiculous spectrum, inasmuch as they zoom in so eagerly on the “clinics are probably bad for your health!” angle, while ignoring evidence that, for instance, clinic usage does not derail patients’ receipt of care from primary care physicians for preventive care or diabetes management.
Articles in this vein from leading news outlets are particularly egregious: Retail Clinics May Cut Into Primary Care: Study, Chicago Tribune/Reuters, 11/1/12).
The Ridiculous: 10 things walk-in clinics won’t tell you, Jen Wieczner, MarketWatch/Wall Street Journal, 11/2/12)
Purposefully ‘controversial’ at a 10th-grade level of comprehension of that term, this “top 10″ style article, which draws on the Mehrotra study, features ‘alarming’ assertions of this kind throughout:
“1. “We might put your family doctor out of business…””, and even MORE ridiculously, “6. “We practically self-regulate.”"
Ms Wieczner seems like an earnest, industrious individual – she’s apparently written a number of articles for various publications – but she cannot be legitimately described as an authority on health care topics generally or clinic-based care specifically. Her profile confirms this. However, we are prepared to wager her observations on parties in the Hamptons or horseracing are nonpareil.