What if you could see your family doctor in the same place as you buy tomatoes, soup, bread, and milk? We live in a world of convenience these days, but over in Britain things are being taken to a new level. Check-ups at the clinic are generally not convenient at all, with patients notoriously kept waiting (in the aptly-named waiting rooms) well after their time slot. But what if the clinic was transported right into your local supermarket? British authorities are inviting major retail stores, such as Boots (massive pharmacy chain) and Tesco (giant grocery chain) to open up actual surgery rooms within their stores. Authorities are looking at areas of the country that are lacking doctors in an attempt to draw new “experienced healthcare providers” to the area.
The groundbreaking idea is this: have doctors perform anything from a routine physical to a minor surgery in the same place people are stocking up on their cereal. It’s a new approach to a rising dilemma that is happening all across the western world: there are too few doctors to handle patients. By the end of 2008, about 30 areas of Britain are expected to have these grocery-clinics set up. This isn’t a government-run operation, but instead private healthcare providers will be able to step into these clinics. That means they can stay open whenever they want, into the evening, early in the morning, or on Sundays. That’s one of the reasons Britain chose grocery stores, as they tend to stay open during convenient hours for patients, because a recent survey found out that doctors keep hours that can be
difficult for most people. The one thing a supermarket must do first is strike a relationship with a general practitioner before it can be considered for a clinic. In February of this year, the first Boots store (in Dorset) launched its own doctor’s office — it was from a doctor who had rented out a room. Now, many other big chains are interested in the idea, and why not? It would bring more customers into the store, which is the aim of any retail operation.
There is no word of what could happen in the United States, but regulators here are certainly keeping a watchful eye on what happens in Britain. It may be only a matter of time before your local Safeway, A&P, Costco, or even Wal-Mart gets itself an in-house doctor.
Think of the convenience.