An attempt is made to refer patients to primary-care physicians, Dr. Woodburn said. We have strong referral relationships and know who the good ENT docs are in the communality. In addition, MinuteClinics has an electronic database that provides information from physicians who are accepting new patients. If a patient does not have a primary care physician, then we can provide a list of doctors in their neighborhood-and that is a value to the physician and certainly a value to our patients.
Explore This IssueSeptember 2006
MinuteClinics also sends medical records to primary-care physicians if the patient already is being seen, letting them know what we did, what we saw, what the treatment plan was, because we believe that is critical-we share information with doctors that patient goes to see, added Dr. Woodburn.
Out of thousands of surveys, patients rate the care given as excellent, Dr. Woodburn reported, with an average of 93% satisfaction. He credits this high percentage of satisfaction to two main factors. First, nurse practitioners love to teach and they love to interact with people, and there is a very warm and immediate kind of relationship that develops.
The second factor is that because of the way the clinics are set up, the practitioner can spend more time with patients than the average busy physician. We have at least 15 minutes-and that gives time enough to educate and to talk, Dr. Woodburn said.
My suggestion, especially in the pilot phase, is that there should be some significant physician supervision when these clinics get rolled out. – -Neil Bhattacharyya, MD
The typical cost for a visit is about $49 to $59, which varies from state to state. Laboratory tests are extra and insurance covers much of the care, added Dr. Woodburn. We have strong national contracts with Cigna, Aetna, United Health Groups, and some Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.
Clinics Need Continued Oversight
Although most reports on drop-in clinics are positive, since both the concept and practice are new, continuing oversight is necessary to assure that patients’ needs are met.
For many ENT-related disorders, there is going to be some value in terms of screening for hearing loss and other chronic conditions of the head and neck, said Neil Bhattacharyya, MD, Associate Professor of Otology and Laryngology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass.
Staffed by nurse practitioners and/or physician’s assistants, walk-in clinics typically provide acute care services for minor problems for patients over 18 months of age.