Recently, a major national drug store chain announced a plan to expand its scope of services from selling prescriptions, over the counter drugs and other retail items, to now providing actual patient health care, including diagnosing and treating of patients with acute and chronic medical conditions. Specifically, the plan includes the medical management of patients with hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma and several other diseases. Many drug store chains already offer immunizations for patients (such as flu and pneumonia shots) and some also offer "sick visit care" for colds, rashes and minor injuries. However, this is the first time a company has announced full-service medical care.
While these chronic medical conditions are generally treated by primary care doctors such as internists and family practice physicians, these drug store clinics will be staffed with nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Physician groups around the country are concerned about the fragmented care this will cause for their patients as well as the provision of health care with minimal physician oversight.