Your Kaiser Permanente Doctor Will See You Now – At Target

I am a pretty severe critic of hospitals. Nevertheless, I like innovation wherever we find it happening, and it is happening in some large systems:

In a move that reflects the increasing wave of consumer-driven healthcare, Target Corporation is teaming up with Kaiser Permanente to open four in-store Target Clinics in Southern California, taking a host of services directly to thousands of customers.

The clinics opened at Target stores in Vista, San Diego and Fontana, and a fourth clinic will open in West Fullerton Dec. 6. They will be staffed by nurse practitioners from Kaiser.

While Target has maintained clinics for the past 10 years at a number of stores, the partnership will allow for a much broader array of services than it typically offered at retail outlets. Expanded services include telemedicine consultations, prescription reviews, pediatric primary care visits, OB-GYN services, vaccinations and flu shots, pediatric and adolescent care and management of chronic illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure, according to John Holcomb, vice president of healthcare for Target. (Dan Verel, MEDCity News)

I have not been to one of these Targets, but I saw something similar in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend. I went to the Walmart and saw one of those convenient clinics that we like (because of their transparent pricing and – well – convenience). However, it was not operated by a national chain of convenient clinics, but Augusta Health, an integrated health system based in the Shenandoah Valley. Like other convenient clinics, it offered a range of services for listed, reasonable prices. I learned that Augusta Health had teamed up with Walmart in the Shenandoah Valley in 2011.

I also like independent physicians. However, when those physicians gripe about convenient clinics and try to block their expansion, they let an opportunity go by – one that large health systems are learning to exploit.

John R. Graham is a former Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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