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Thursday, July 24, 2014

New Trends in Healthcare

by Dr. Robert Goode, Lake Washington Primary Care

In the ever changing landscape of healthcare, patients now have more options on how, when and where they can receive their medical care.

Medical Clinics in Pharmacies
Across the country healthcare organizations are putting walk-in clinics in pharmacies to give patients day, evening and weekend access to medical care. In Seattle, Group Health has partnered with Bartell Drug Stores to put a CareClinic, staffed by a nurse practitioner, in three pharmacy locations. They treat common
ailments, perform basic tests and give most immunizations. Care is very affordable at $75 for the visit, less if the patient’s insurance company is billed.

Telemedicine gives patients convenient 24/7 access to medical care by phone or computer. Locally Carena offers a “virtual clinic” option to healthcare organizations and businesses. Employees of companies that partner with Carena can access a physician or nurse practitioner through their virtual clinic for medical care anywhere anytime.

Direct Primary Care Clinics
In this model, employers or patients directly pay the primary care physician a flat monthly fee for unlimited appointments. Patients may have a small co-pay at each visit.  Frequently this type of care is coupled with a high deductible plan (usually payable from HSA or FSA accounts) to cover expensive hospitalizations and treatments. Doctors are paid a fixed amount to take care of a certain number of patients regardless of how often they see them. Qliance has effectively implemented this model in several locations in the Seattle-Tacoma area.

Concierge Medical Clinics

These clinics have been around for many years but are becoming more popular as patients desire a closer relationship with and 24/7 access to their physicians. The cornerstone of concierge medical clinics is longer visits with the doctor, same day/next day appointments for urgent care issues and access to the doctor by cell phone after hours and on weekends. With these added benefits comes an extra fee, typically $2000-3000 per year.  Seattle is home to the first concierge clinic MD2 (squared) which began in 1996. Today there are many concierge medical clinics in Seattle, some now offering more affordable care.

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