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HouseM.D.GregoryHouse1479How’s this disparity? On May 11, the New York Times penned a lengthy piece on how, even with the recession, “Concierge Docs” (where well funded types pay a lot of money each year to have more personal relationship with their physician) were still doing bang-up business. On May 12, the New York Times penned another lengthy piece about hospitals setting up clinics in supermarkets and other stores to reach patients who do not need ER treatment.  This is not purely for altruistic purposes, of course. Apparently, their most desirable consumer is women of childbearing age. Presumably if she gets treated well at the walk in clinic at Wal-Mart, she will decide to pop out a kid at the affiliated hospital.

Business model aside, I am kind of intrigued by these so-called  retail clinics. It really fills a void for people who cannot afford health insurance (at one of the clinics profiled, the cost for a routine physical was $30).  In the article, of course the Doctors interviewed waxed poetically about the importance of a one-on-one relationship between patient and doctor that does not exist at these clinics—the Primary Care physician knows their patient’s medical needs.  Each and every patient.

I have  seen my PCP once in the four times I have gone into her office. The only time I did get my actual Doc, she looked like she wanted to kill me for actually nabbing her for the appointment. Her disinterest in my medical needs was astounding.

Isn’t that what those Concierge Docs are for, anyway?  For a whole lot of money a year, that Doc promises to not have more than 600 patients per year so that the Doctor can have a much more personal relationship with the patient. If a doctor with 600 patients a year is considered a high-priced Concierge Doc, would a regular plain old PCP know the medical needs of a patient load that reaches into the thousands?

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