Future of Health Care or Quick Fix?

The Wal-Mart Supercenter store in Fayetteville, Ark., looks like almost any other outlet from this retailer in America.

There's the produce (Wal-Mart is one of the nation's biggest grocers now), and, of course, consumer electronics, apparel, an automotive center and a pharmacy, a bank and a health clinic.

That's right. A health clinic.

ABC News and USA Today offer solutions to the health care problems in America during our weeklong series "Prescription for Change." Watch for special reports all week on "Good Morning America," "World News" and "Nightline."

It's what many experts believe might play a crucial role in the future of health care in America: store-based, in-and-out, flat-fee, no-appointment-necessary medical clinics.

Sandy Branson is one of the nurse-practitioners at the RediClinic in the Wal-Mart in Fayetteville. She has worked here for a few months, seeing anywhere from a dozen to 20 patients a day.

Branson treats a strictly limited number of ailments. Only patients whose symptoms match a specific list at the RediClinic get treated. She usually sends her patients home fast and happy. Visits last 15 minutes on average.

Tina Johnson came in to get four immunization shots for her 5-year-old son, Carston. She told ABC News her visit went much more quickly than those she and her son have had in a pediatrician's office.

It's a reaction Branson said she hears a lot as patients tell her, "'We're so glad you're here,' 'this is so great … getting in and out,'" Branson said. "I hear it all the time, probably every patient I've seen since August."

'Get Well' Visit

It's a pretty simple idea and here's how it works: Wal-Mart leases space to clinics that treat patients for a flat fee.

Let's say you're feeling ill and are feverish, achy and your nose is stuffed up. When you arrive at the clinic, you're checked in and you pay a flat fee of $45 upfront for a "Get Well" visit.

Tim Green was not feeling well the day ABC News was in Fayetteville. He thought he had strep throat and wanted to be examined by a health care professional.

"I've been under the weather the last couple of days, and I decided to try to be seen," Green said. "I called my doctor and wasn't able to be seen. … This was the next number on my list."

So he went to the Wal-Mart clinic where Branson checked him out. Following a carefully designed set of protocols spelled out in the clinic's proprietary computer program, coupled with her own training and experience, Branson diagnosed a sinus infection and wrote Green a prescription.

There's another reason that Green, a salesman at the local Dillard's department store, went to Wal-Mart instead of a doctor's office: He has no medical insurance.

"Definitely for people with no insurance … they should come here because of the fact that it's cheap and you are going to get great service," Green told ABC News.

Right now, very few patients in America have ever seen a clinic like the one where Branson works. But that's going to change, and fast.

Today there are roughly a couple hundred store-based clinics like this one operating nationwide -- most in major retail chains like Wal-Mart, Target, CVS, Kroger, and most are located in the Midwest and the South.

But the dozen companies battling to control this emerging market said they have plans for expanding that number to several thousand in the next couple of years.

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