Would we need walk-in clinics and urgent treatment centers if doctors were more accessible?

In the standard, insurance based medical world, walk-in clinics and urgent treatment centers have become the normal.  These quick access options for very basic medical care developed out of necessity for patients to be seen in a timely manner.  In the standard practice, walk-in clinics are the relief value for a clinician’s schedule that cannot accommodate an appointment for one of their patients in need.  Now, to be fair, not every medical problem that shows up in a walk-in clinic or emergency room really has an urgency to it.  Many concerns are very routine that could be addressed in the normal course of practice if there was availability in the schedule.

In our Direct Primary Care practice, we have a much lower patient panel, nearly 1/10th the size of a standard practice, which means we have much more availability in getting our patients seen in a timely manner.  We can offer same day or next business day appointments for our patients.  Additionally, some of the concerns people use a walk-in clinic for can be addressed over the phone or via email for patients and physicians who have a well established professional relationship.  Those episodes are just another chapter in the ongoing conversation they’ve been having about the patient’s overall health.

Some people aren’t ill, but they do get sick.

Given the relaxed and low stress setting of our practice style, many people have asked if they could just come in for a walk-in appointment or one time appointment if they need medical care.  They don’t feel like they need a membership but would like a trusted physician to help them through a particular hard spot.

We certainly appreciate the compliment, but we’re interested in long term relationships with patients.  Good medical care is delivered over time and patients need access to their doctor.  Because of that, we only offer membership based care.  In the long run, patients always find it is a better experience at a better price.