You know that dream you have where you’re being chased by a serial killer in a ski mask, and you try to scream but nothing comes out?
Well, that’s how I felt when I walked into the local grocery store the other day with my little one. There was some new construction going on. You’ve probably seen it too. Then I noticed the sign, COMING SOON: University of Missouri Quick Care. This is essentially a doctor in a box (or maybe a nurse practitioner) next to a pharmacy in your grocery store. I was appalled.
They put the doctor in the pharmacy and the pharmacy in the grocery store. It’s not emergency care, it’s not even urgent care anymore. It’s quick care. How can we make “healthcare” like the fast food industry?
The evolution of the pharmacy happened just slow enough that we didn’t really notice, or if we did we just thought that like most things, it was more convenient for our busy lives. The pharmacy used to be in the hospital because medicine was a tool the doctor used to help sick people, though certainly not the only tool. Then pharmaceuticals became a profit driven business. The pharmacy went to stand alone businesses that doctors could send you to pick up your prescription. Then there was drive-through. Don’t even get out of your car. More convenience. Next was Urgent Care. There is a joke around town or maybe it’s just between my colleagues and I; if you want an antibiotic, an x-ray or a steroid… go to Urgent Care.
Somehow things have gotten completely turned around. Now it seems the doctor is just a tool to get drugs to as many people as possible with no regard to multiple meds, side effects, or the long term effects of covering up symptoms that are caused by lifestyle. It’s business pure and simple.
As Dr. Seuss poetically says, “Business is business and business must grow, regardless of crummies in tummies you know.”
How do you promote the sale of a product? Make the customer believe they need it.
You’ve seen the commercials for every condition imaginable: take this drug, don’t suffer a moment longer… take this drug. What you are experiencing isn’t normal, ask your doctor about this drug. Marketing addictive substances directly to the consumer is criminal. When patients walk into their doctor’s office demanding a medication for this condition which was self-diagnosed by the internet, it puts your doctor in a difficult position. Do I comply even though the med really isn’t necessary? Or do I risk losing a patient because one of my colleagues will gladly write the scrip?
So, let’s just take out the middle man. Let’s put a scrip-writer directly into a pharmacy, call it something else and market it as convenient. It worked for restaurants, why not healthcare?