Monday, August 1, 2011 | Categories: Past Episodes
The best of White Coat, Black Art continues today with a look at the promises and pitfalls of "no appointment" health care. Dr. Brian drops by a walk-in clinic in Ottawa and finds out how doctors there manage to see up to 500 patients a day. You'll also hear from a health policy expert about why he believes walk-in clinics may give patients the fast service they want, but not the health care they need.
Tune in today at 11:30am (3:30pm NT) on CBC Radio One. Or to listen now, click below or download the podcast:
On this week's show, I visit the hub of Appletree Medical Group in Ottawa, headquarters to a chain of 11 walk-in clinics in the nation's capital that uses technology and blinding speed.
We meet Dr. Jean Oosthuizen, a GP who gave up the family practice that he ran by himself to join Appletree. Listen as he demonstrates a tablet computer that he says helps him keep track of the patients who come to the clinic. Internist Dr. Pravin Shukle, who also works at Appletree, says technology has made it possible to streamline appointments (and save time) by allowing family doctors to peer electronically into Dr. Shukle's schedule and book appointments in the gaps.
Fifty thousand of the quarter of a million patients who visit Appletree Medical Clinics in Ontario each year don't have a family doctor. And a surprising number of people who visit walk-ins have a GP but choose not to see them. In the ER, I see patients like that all the time.
I speak to a health policy expert who is not so enamored. Dr. Michael Rachlis says the growth of walk-in medicine is a symptom of the failure of provincial authorities to make changes in family medicine, also known as primary care. Rachlis tells us why walk in clinics give patients the fast service they want - not necessarily the health care that they need.
I think 'no-appointment' health care is too entrenched in the system to be gotten rid of by improving access to your family doctor. To me, that ship has sailed.