Well, you can get pretty much anything at Walmart these days and now you can add a doctor to your shopping list. The retail giant is opening primary care clinics in many of its stores and ABC's Brandi... See More
Well, you can get pretty much anything at Walmart these days and now you can add a doctor to your shopping list. The retail giant is opening primary care clinics in many of its stores and ABC's Brandi Hitt has the story. Reporter: Walmart, the one-stop shopping destination for everything from groceries to clothing even treadmills and now your physician. The nation's largest retailer is marketing itself as a primary medical provider in addition to 100 basic care clinics Walmart is opening six primary care clinics inside stores inside Texas and South Carolina with licensed nurse practitioners ready to diagnose and treat chronic illnesses and injuries. All for $40 a visit. Just $4 if you're a Walmart employee. The clinics are located in areas where doctors are scarce and all sites supervising physicians are ready to step in when needed. Dr. Michael Rodriguez is not affiliated with Walmart. More access to care is extremely important but that care needs to be high quality care. Reporter: It's the latest step in a growing trend. Drugstore clinics at Walgreens and CVS stores offering limited screenings and vaccines have been growing in popularity. When I am jammed with time, our time schedules are tight, it's very convenient for us. Reporter: But Dr. Rodriguez says Walmart is taking it a step farther and he's concerned that primary care givers at the helm are nurse practitioners, not doctors. Their training and expertise is not the same as primary care physicians. Reporter: Walmart is opening six more primary care clinics by the end of the year. It tells ABC news we aim to be part of a continuum of care while driving down costs for our associates and customers. Adding that it also offers referrals to specialists as needed. For "Good morning America," Brandi Hitt, ABC news, los Angeles. And ABC news senior medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton joins us now. Brandi mentioned I got my flu shot at the pharmacy. This is about access and there's concerns about quality. What are your thoughts on this? You know, usually I'm a big believer in staying in your lane when it comes to medical qualifications but I actually think this concept is a net positive and I think we Teed to see how it plays out. I don't think that doctors should feel threatened from the get-go. The reality, there are many people especially those who live in poor rural areas whether they have insurance or not they don't have the access to a medical professional and they need that interface with someone whether it's a nurse practitioner, a medical assistant or an md to continue their medical management of chronic issues. We're not talking about doing dialysis or fibroid management at a Walmart. This is, you know, low-level things that need some kind of medical oversight that could be absolutely done by a nurse practitioner who is very skilled, very qualified and while they may not have the exact same credentials as an md, they are more than capable and competent to handle these issues. It's affordable, convenient. What are the downsides. You mentioned cost. $40 a visit sounds enticing but when you think about the fact that a lot of these people have chronic issues, some people with chronic issues need to be seen once a month. Now all of a sudden you're talking about almost $500 a year so the cost is a factor. What I really worry about also, Amy, is the doctor/patient or health care provider patient relationship. Will that continuity and follow-up exist here? What should you do? Do you have advice for people who are planning to go to these facilities or go to the ones that are doc in a box. I often have patients away at college or traveling and go to an urgrcare or doc in a box. If possible, always bring someone with you. I mean these are your extra set of ears and eyes for something that might be a very stressful situation for you and get copies of everything. That means your tests, your results, the interaction, the notes that the health care provider did, all of those are very important when you hopefully will see another provider down the road for follow-up because -- If something serious comes up you want to go to an md. And uniformly when have a patient that went to one, what kind of test, what was the diagnosis people say, I don't know so get the paperwork. All right, Dr. Jen Ashton, always great advice. Thanks so much.
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