Friday, June 30, 2006

Chomp, Chomp

No, this isn't another cannibal post. That's the sound of me eating my words. From a recent New York Times article, "Market Forces Pushing Doctors to Be More Available":

In Dr. Gerdes's office, the innovations include daily clinics at lunchtime called QuickSick, in which patients who have phoned up that morning can come in for routine problems requiring immediate attention, like an upper respiratory infection, and are guaranteed they will be examined, treated and on their way within a half-hour.

After a nurse checks the patient's temperature and blood pressure and types the symptoms into a computer, the doctor follows up with a brief exam. If medication is warranted, Dr. Gerdes can e-mail a prescription that will be ready when the patient arrives at the pharmacy.

"I can see three patients with acute needs every 15 minutes," she said.

The charge is $52 to $60, which is coverable by insurance and similar to prices at many of the new clinics springing up in places like CVS pharmacies and retail chains like Wal-Mart.

We have now entered the fast food age of medicine. QuickSick sounds like the Golden Arches of health care. Quick math check: one patient every five minutes at $60 a pop = $720 per hour of revenue. Guess I'd better take back everything I said about the spiritual gardening consultant. But do they charge for missed appointments?