Would You Trust a Drugstore Doctor for Your Family?

Instead of pediatrician offices, some parents might opt for the convenience store option. Could CVS MinuteClinics and similar chains replace the family doc?

A pharmacist offers advice to a woman with a purse

Modern family life seems to be all about convenience lately. Our groceries can be hand-delivered to us, for example, and we’ll even be able to take our Amazon returns to Kohl’s soon, just to make life that much simpler. For parents, the one-stop-shop is especially popular.

So it’s easy to see, then, why drugstore doctor clinics are growing in popularity. A recent Detroit Free Press article highlighted this issue, pointing out the growing number of pharmacies that are expanding health care services for shoppers (or patients, rather) across southeast Michigan.

A trend on the rise

CVS is adding more MinuteClinics to its existing 16 locations around the state, and some Walgreens and Meijer locations are also getting in on pharmacy doctor visits. At these drugstore clinics, patients can see a pharmacist, nurse practitioner or tech who – in addition to administering vaccines – can now test for things like strep throat, influenza or even HIV.

Then, that same health care provider can also order a prescription for you, if it’s necessary, making drugstore clinics a convenient option – especially when trying to juggle the multiple responsibilities of raising kids.

Potential issues

But then again, there are some downfalls to consider with the drugstore doctor approach.

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“The relationship you have with a primary care doctor is important,” Jalal Zawaideh, a pharmacy owner in Royal Oak, told the Detroit Free Press when discussing the trend. “It’s about prevention, ruling out other conditions and the doctor knowing you.”

While experts agree the retail clinic trend is important to watch, families considering using a drugstore clinic should keep a few precautions in mind.

Though the clinics may offer more affordable services and easy access to appointments, many health issues require a more involved approach that will be best-suited to a family’s primary care provider, a Harvard Health blog post noted in 2016.

But if your health issue seems like a simple doctor’s visit – you think you might have a urinary tract infection or strep throat, for example – a drugstore doctor appointment could be a worthwhile option.

“Going to a retail clinic is fine for minor issues like a flu shot or a sore throat, particularly if you’re generally healthy,” Dr. Ateev Mehrotra, an associate professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, explains in the Harvard blog post.

Would you trust a pharmacy clinic for your family’s health care needs over a traditional doctor’s office? Tell us in the comments!

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