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Health care in America: Medicine at the mall

April 4, 2013

PAST the lipsticks and lotions in a Walgreens shop in Orlando is what looks like a doctor?s office. It does not operate like one. Patients can check waiting times online before coming to the store. In a private room, they see a nurse for a diagnosis. At kiosks, they use touch screens to pull up prescriptions and pay for them. A pharmacist devotes his time to patients? questions?pharmacy clerical work is centralised elsewhere.Walgreens, a national pharmacy chain, is expanding its clinics? scope. Having long treated sore throats and pink eyes, on April 4th the company announced new services to manage chronic conditions. The move is part of a bigger trend in the era of Obamacare. As baby-boomers age and millions of Americans gain insurance, demand for basic health services will surge. Primary-care doctors are scarce. Companies such as Walgreens are keen to fill the gap.In America?s maddeningly complex health system, they hope to offer something new: ease. It used to be that patients, when ill, made an appointment with a doctor and then wasted ages waiting to be seen. If they had the bad sense to be sick at night or over the weekend, they had few options but a hospital...

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