I used to be afraid of retail clinics because of their lack of follow-up, the absence of care by those with special training in treating children, and their advancement of a drive-through mentality to health care.
Now I have another reason to be concerned.
Buried deep in the bowels of yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (February 8, 2008, Media & Marketing, page B3) is a report on Wal-Mart and its new agreement with in store clinic operators. Beyond planning 2,000 retail clinics by 2014, Wal-Mart will mandate that clinics use an electronic medical records and practice management system from closely held eClinicalWorks.
Medical records would seem like an unlikely preoccupation for a retailer. But knowledge is power. As health care administrators would Wal-Mart have access to collective medical information and prescribing patterns just like the owners of a medical practice? If so, this would represent a new form of control for the world’s largest retailer.
Consistent with the view of the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents should mandate that their children receive care in a medical home where the most experienced clinicians diagnose, treat and follow children in a consistent way. For diapers and cereal, big box is good. But when it comes to your child’s medical needs or, more importantly, their privileged medical information, take the time and keep it under your pediatrician’s roof.