PDQ opens prototype walk-in clinic in Florida
WELLINGTON, Fla. PDQ Care has introduced a combination walk-in clinic and pharmacy at a regional shopping mall with the recent opening at The Mall at Wellington Green.
As one of the fastest growing trends in the nation’s healthcare system, convenient care clinics, which currently number in excess of 900 locations nationally, are expected to continue to grow in numbers over the course of the next several years. Florida recently became the first state to reach 100 retail clinics.
South Florida partners Reid Becker and Gerson “Gus” Greenbarg intend to use The Mall at Wellington Green prototype to launch a series of PDQ Care (Patients Deserve Quality Care) locations throughout the region’s shopping malls. The plan is to open another 40 to 50 combination walk-in clinics and pharmacies in Florida within the next three years with an eventual expansion to 400 locations nationally.
“We wanted to locate our clinic where people shop in order to provide quick and easy care in a location they frequent and have a comfort level with,” stated Becker, formerly an executive with Miami-based Cordis Corp. and president and chief executive officer with South Florida-based Medical Testing Associates. “Not only do we have a built-in customer base with an estimated 3,000 employees at the mall and surrounding businesses, but daily foot traffic in malls is significantly higher than our retail competitors by two to 11 times.” Driving the demand for walk-in clinics, according to Greenbarg, a pharmacist and founder of Miami-based FLA Orthopedics, are consumers who find they are having to pay more for basic health care.
Open seven days a week during regular mall hours, an office visit at PDQ Care, according to Greenbarg, can cost as an individual as little as $58.95 or an insurance co-pay.
“Compare this amount to an average $120 at a physician’s office or $330 at an emergency room, plus the convenience of no-wait, no-appointments,” stated Greenbarg. “Walk-in clinics are becoming highly attractive service-on-demand alternatives to treating basic ailments, laboratory testing, vaccinations and health screenings.” PDQ Care, staffed by board-certified nurse practitioners (under the direction of local medical doctors), also offers a variety of preventative care and wellness services as well as medication therapy management and a PHR-To-Go personal health record service, according to Becker.
Most treatments take less than 15 minutes, and in the event there is a wait, mall shoppers will receive a beeper to notify them when the nurse practitioner is free.
Wisc., Mont. face issues on contraceptive decisions by religious pharmacists
MADISON, Wisc., and HELENA, Mont. The Thomas More Society, a law firm that represents abortion opponents recently asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to hear an appeal of a disciplinary action brought against a pharmacist who refused to fill a prescription for birth control because of his religious beliefs, according to published reports.
The pharmacist, Neil Noesen, refused to fill a birth control prescription for a University of Wisconsin-Stout student in July 2002. He also declined to transfer the prescription to another pharmacy.
The woman filed a complaint with the state Department of Regulation and Licensing’s Pharmacy Examining Board. The board adopted the findings of an administrative law judge that Noesen be reprimanded and that limitations be placed on his license. He also was ordered to take an ethics course and required to pay $21,000 in costs.
The decision was upheld by a circuit judge and by the 3rd District Court of Appeals, although the appellate decision ordered a review of the order that Noesen pay costs.
In related news, the Montana Board of Pharmacy took no action this week after hearing comments on the issue of pharmacists who refuse to dispense contraceptives because of religious beliefs. Montana currently has no rule or statute that requires pharmacies to stock every drug on the market, and “we decided to leave it at that,” board president Jim Cloud said.
Board member Mark Meredith said that a decision on whether new regulations are necessary should come from state lawmakers, not the six-member pharmacy board.
Stacey Anderson, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Montana, who requested the meeting with the board, urged it to establish a rule that protects women’s access to birth control. She asked board members to be proactive in addressing the issue to “prevent future personal refusals and to clearly define the standard of care expected of licensed pharmacies.”
After the meeting, Anderson said her organization will continue to look for ways to make its case through “administrative and legal avenues.” She added that she doesn’t agree that the issue should be decided by the state’s lawmakers.
FDA commissioner stresses importance of information technology
WASHINGTON According to Food and Drug Administration commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, information technology is one of the top priorities in the agency, according to published reports.
Von Eschenbach spoke earlier this week before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations, which is studying FDA actions to improve the safety of medical devices and products made with foreign components.
The FDA, von Eschenbach said, needs a modern information technology infrastructure to better use data it already has and to better coordinate various activities within the agency. Existing information systems, for instance, do not have the capability to automatically verify information submitted by foreign firms that ship components of regulated products into the United States.
“FDA plans to enhance its I.T. systems in ways that will enable the agency to better utilize risk-based information from the entire life-cycle of imported products,” von Eschenbach testified. “Many of these improvements will be implemented in the next two years; implementation of a few will extend beyond 2010. These projects will improve databases, enhance interoperability of systems within the agency and among other regulatory agencies, and provide better analytical function to assess and control risk.”