Wal-Mart has a dozen operations in its stores. Target has a dozen or so, staffed by nurse practitioners. Rite Aid and Duane Read have pilot programs. Even neighborhood pharmacies are setting up to do simple tests and treatments.
Many family physicians have nurse practitioners or physicians' assistants on staff, who see patients and can dispense for the doctor. My own family doctor really needed his when he was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. He's much better now and has added a partner.
The mini-clinics claim they can save big bucks. A MinuteClinic press release includes prices, most between $50-90. And they take insurance.
So is all this a good thing? How much basic health care should be moved to pharmacies? And what happens the first time one of these clinics gets sued for malpractice?