Tonight I went to the CVS Minute Clinic to get diagnosed for my sinus infection, and to get my prescription filled. This article is to share my experiences with Minute Clinic.
Back in mid December 2011, I got a sinus infection. We have a toddler and he has been bringing home all sorts of new germs from the outside world. Considering that I rarely leave my house ( self employed computer programmer ), I have been fortunate to not encounter all the newest and greatest viruses and bacteria that the world has to offer. Anyway it was one of the worst colds I have ever had. To the point that I was bed ridden for a good couple days, plus yellow and green snot, and dry cough for 3 weeks after that. Keep in mind that even though I considered going to see a Doctor, I didn't feel like paying a copay for both the visit and the prescriptions. So basically I let nature take its course and felt 100% after about 3 weeks.
Then about 3 days ago, I noticed I had a sore throat before going to bed. The next day I was blowing green and yellow snot. So I naturally tried to do what i could. Taking about 8,000 MG of Vitamin C over that day. Then before bed I used a saline solution nasal rinse to clear out any crap. I also used some nasal spray to open up my nasal passages so I could breathe through my nose as I slept. The next morning I awoke at about 8 AM with extreme sinus pressure and the worst headache of my life. Keep in mind I rarely get headaches. It was so bad that it didn't matter what I did, Stand up, lay down, all I could feel was the severe pressure in my head, very painful. It was so painful I vomited once ( on an empty stomach ). That provided little relief. I manged to get a couple bits of oatmeal down, and then laid in bed for a couple hours. Eventually the headache lessened to the point that I could try to sleep off the worst of this cold.
I woke up at 3PM with my head feeling clear. I stood up and felt much better. However, just because I felt good now, didn't mean I would feel good the next morning. So instead of procrastinating a doctors visit I asked my wife to make an appointment for me. She said the doctors office wouldn't be able to get me in until Monday ( 3 days away ). She suggested I try the CVS Minute Clinic.
For those of you who have never heard of CVS Minute Clinic, its basically a small doctors office that is available on site at some CVS stores. These Minute Clinics typically are staffed by 1 - 2 Doctors or Nurse Practitioners. The location I visited on 518 and Pearland Parkway in Pearland TX, had 1 Nurse Practitioner working.
The Minute Clinic I visited had 2 Doctors offices plus a kiosk that you used to signup to see one of the Healthcare Professionals. It's actually very well thought out. A touch screen computer allows you to type in some basic information, ( name, address, phone, email, ect ), then it tells you where you stand in line. When I visited the Minute Clinic there was no wait and within 5 minutes of doing the Kiosk check in, the healthcare professional opened their door and greeted me in. I was signing in on a Friday at about 7PM. This was by far the fastest wait time I have every experienced with any Doctors visit!
Greeting screen. Tells you that the cost of your visit will be $79 - $89. They also take most Health Insurance. I am with Cigna. The Minute Clinics in our area accept Cigna. So the my out of pocket cost was only my copay.
The Kiosk allows you to signup for a visit with a Healthcare Professional. After you are done signing up, a list of the current people waiting is displayed. Lucky me! I was the only person waiting.
I was promptly greeted by a Nurse Practitioner that was working that night. I took a seat and explained to her my symptoms. She did a standard check of vitals. After a few questions she agreed that I had a severe Sinus infection and recommended Antibiotics. Then she continued to fill out more information on the computer. After about 10 minutes I was done. She transferred my prescription directly to the CVS pharmacy ( same location ), and within 5 minutes I had my prescription and was on my way home.
I arrived at CVS ( not scheduled ), signed up for a visit with a Healthcare Professional, had my visit with the Healthcare Professional, walked 20 feet to the pharmacy department to confirm my prescriptions, picked up my prescriptions and was out the door. This all happened in 25 minutes. This was the fastest and most efficient healthcare experience I have ever had. The price of the visit was clearly stated on the kiosk before giving any information. Plus the pricing $79 - $89 was also displayed on their website.
Now ask yourself this. When was the last time you had a doctors appointment that you actually got to see your doctor at the scheduled appointment time? How long did it take the Healthcare Professional to make it to your exam room? Did the Healthcare Clinic proudly state the price of their service on their website or in their lobby? Did they have their own on site pharmacy?
Your answers to all the above questions are most likely NO or NEVER.
In my experience a typical Doctors visit involves you making an appointment that is not the same day. You arrive at the Clinic at the Scheduled time, and have to wait in the lobby for a good 30 minutes before a nurse takes you back to an exam room. Once in the exam room you wait another 15 - 30 minutes for the doctor to make their way. The doctor walks in with smile on their face and begins with small talk while they fumble through your chart looking for your name, and any information that will allow them to quickly diagnose you and send you on your way. If they do write you a prescription, it's for something that is so weak that you are likely to return for something stronger ( another billable visit ). The doctor's nurse then allegedly faxes your prescription to the pharmacy that you use. However after driving across town, you find that the pharmacy has not yet been notified about your prescription. So you call the doctors office and they finally fax in your information. Then the pharmacy tells you it will be ready in an hour or longer. Rather than wasting gas and driving home you wait at the pharmacy. They know you are waiting, but still that doesn't speed things up. An hour later you finally get your prescription and are on your way home. In this typical doctors visit you spent half your day in waiting rooms or your car. The true cost of your visits will be discovered 3 months later when your Health Insurance sends you a statement. At this point you see how much that Doctor really charges for care, and it often is 3x what CVS charges.
In my opinion CVS Minute Clinic, is setting the standard for quality medical care. Their prices are transparent, and less than everyone else. Wait times are minimal. No appointment needed. No paper forms to fill out. Everything is digital. They are open til 7:30 PM weekdays. Plus the convenience of being able to see a Healthcare Professional and fill you prescription all at the same building saved me time. I am now I huge fan of the Minute Clinics. Granted they are not for major things like Broken arms, or gunshot wounds. But if you have a sinus infection or something that just needs diagnosis for a prescription, its perfect.