Retail Health: The PCP's Specialty
Matt Winn over at Punctuative has an interesting post that looks at the results of a new study on retail care from Market Strategies regarding the decentralization of care for common ailments. Based on this, and some other references, he makes the correct point about that the PCP physician specialty as we know it is disappearing. For a new doc coming out of med school it just doesn't make economic sense to generalize and make $162K vs. specializing and making $297K a year according to Winn. Unlike radiologists and urologists, for example, PCPs just don't have the business opportunities or procedures to make extra income beyond the patient visit.
Our point is that there is an opportunity for physicians to become a part of the retail health solution by participating in it's growth through investment. Currently independent companies like MinuteClinic own and operate mini-clinics which are staffed by NP's. PCP's could easily participate by owning and operating their own mini-clinics. They could then utilize them as satellites to their main office i.e. distributing care to the common ailments to the edge, at pharmacies and other retail locations, while maintaining their main office for more complicated cases that require more time. In this fashion they could collect revenue from multiple locations while easing their case load. We've run the numbers on this and we believe it would be possible for a PCP to essentially double his yearly income and thus reach a "specialists" salary while at the same time increasing access for patients, and attracting more patients to the practice.
Couple other links Matt has noted: The Impending Collapse of Primary Care Medicine and Its Implications for the State of the Nation’s Health Care and The Primary Care-Specialty Income Gap: Why It Matters