Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Chicago Sun Times Editorial - A clinic in health care improvement

Chicago Sun Times Editorial - A clinic in health care improvement
Copyright by The Chicago Sun Times
August 23, 2006

Starting this fall, Chicagoans with minor ailments will have another choice when deciding where to seek treatment. A company called Take Care Health Systems is opening health clinics in 20 city and suburban Walgreens drugstores. While doctors have some misgivings about the clinics -- they are staffed by nurse practitioners or physician assistants -- we find them hard not to like.

The clinics are consumer-driven. They're open nights and weekends, and no appointments are needed. Patients are in and out in less than an hour. Prices are posted, and the bills are reasonable. More insurance plans are covering them because they cost less than a visit to a doctor or an emergency room. Surveys indicate patients are extremely satisfied with the clinics' cost, care and convenience.

Doctors fret patients may get inadequate or incomplete care. But we trust most people will be able to judge whether their ailment is serious enough to warrant a doctor. At any rate, the nurse practitioner won't treat patients for serious illnesses or injuries, and doctors are available for phone consultations.

The clinics appear to be a worthwhile addition to our list of health care options and evidence the marketplace offers some part of the solution to the challenge of providing affordable health services. If the clinics keep costs down while providing good service in the right circumstances, we're all for them.


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