I recently took my 2-year-old daughter to the Minute Clinic as part of an ongoing experiment in consumer health. While Minute Clinic failed to perform, I saw an early look at the future of routine health delivery.
First, a confession: I am a big fan of the Minute Clinic concept. Combining expanded hour retail-convenient pharmacies with lower cost health professionals who can attend to minor aches and rashes and prescribe medications is business genius. I am convinced the unit economics of this model will bear fruit.
Why subject my daughter? Her school required a physical wellness form completed by a certified medical professional prior to her enrollment. My daughter’s first day of pre-school was the following week, so, of course, I thought this was a great opportunity to experiment. I called CVS’s 1.800 number to confirm this service could be performed – even had a few product level prices quoted to me by the agent– and planned Sunday with my daughter around this grand event.
We arrived a half-hour after the Minute Clinic opened, behind six others previously signed in. An all-digital experience, it felt like an only slightly longer version of an airport check-in kiosk. I could even review my electronic medical record options. There is no admin staff. Do I detect lower overhead costs?
Parent warning: this Minute Clinic was situated at the rear of the store, adjacent to the toy section. My wait required an additional $10 investment in a Disney-branded coloring book (fancy markers included).
After 75 minutes and two dozen “no, you cannot have that toy,” we were seen by the nurse practitioner. Unfortunately, we quickly learned that the the 1.800 CVS representative gave me incorrect information, a not uncommon occurrence according to this nurse. With a sincere apology, the nurse told me she could not complete the required wellness form.
However, all was not lost. She handed me a list with full contact information for all the nearby, no-appointment-necessary medical providers. I drove a mile down the road and had my Minute Clinic experience delivered by Urgent Care (and a doctor), albeit for twice the cost that I had been erroneously quoted by the CVS call center representative.
Am I disappointed? Sure. Do I have faith that the operational kinks will get worked out? Absolutely. Only next time I will bring my own coloring book.