The sign on the wall at Minneapolis-based MinuteClinic presents the price list for common medical procedures: $49 for a Sinus Infection, $59 for Wart Removal, $39 for a Pregnancy Test. Office hours are 8 to 8 weekdays, 8 to 4 weekends, no appointment necessary. The 90 square foot clinics are located in high traffic retail locations like Target, CVS and CUB Foods stores, usually with free parking. A nurse practitioner backed up by a proprietary evidence-based diagnosis and treatment system gets you in and out in 15 minutes, faxes your primary care physician a report, and accepts most insurance plans. If you have a medical problem not on the list -- about 7% of walk-ins, says MinuteClinic -- you're referred to a primary care physician, urgent care center or emergency room.
Like a JiffyLube, the MinuteClinic does a few things, and does them efficiently and well. The company says that a Sore Throat visit -- including prescription medication -- costs about $62 and 30 minutes versus a primary care physician's $109 and 90 minutes versus an emergency room's $325 and God-know-how-many hours waiting time. Patients are satisfied: 50% are referred by friends, 40% to 45% are regulars, and the firm claims 4 complaints per 10,000 visits. Employers are satisfied: many companies actively promote MinuteClinics and even discount co-pays for employees.
Price transparency. Careful quality measurement. Evidence-based practices. Electronic medical records. 21st Century customer service. You know it's a disruptive innovation when the first item on the agenda for the NAFAC urgent care physicians conference in April is: "Are you threatened by the recent openings of clinics inside big-box retailers or chain drug stores in your community?"