This article caught my eye because I used to work for CVS a few years ago, and being in technology the “Appleites” of the world wear on me at times. 🙂 (Don’t go getting the wrong impression, I think Apple makes a good product, it’s the cult-status that bothers me.) Scott’s article raises a good question, has Apple slipped into incremental growth mode, and Macbook Air isn’t the great innovation they described?

But beyond that, the CVS MinuteClinic caught my attention, and Scott’s description of its usefulness is right on! “When we describe MinuteClinic’s approach to the uninitiated, eyes immediately light up. Everyone has gone through the pain of sitting in the doctor’s office, surrounded by sick children, for two hours to confirm the condition they already know their child has” (¶ 6). We’ve all been there. But then my business juices got flowing, and I started thinking about how MinuteClinic could be taken to the next level.

How the MinuteClinic works is this: “MinuteClinic operates small kiosks in pharmacies. A nurse practitioner staffs the kiosk. The nurse practitioner can administer rules-based diagnostics for a range of everyday maladies like strep throat and pink eye. If the diagnostic shows you indeed have the malady, you get your prescription on the spot” (¶ 5).

When we visit a doctor’s office, we sit and describe the problem to the nurse, then again to the doctor. The doctor does a cursory examination (for those easy to diagnose and treat illnesses) and then gives us a prescription or a treatment regimen. What process took place at the doctor’s office that couldn’t be accomplished through the MinuteClinic? Suppose a nurse practitioner using a closed-circuit television or in person, talked with the patient, realized that the condition is beyond his or her normal diagnostic steps, and then transmitted the information gathered thus far to the patient’s regular physician (just like e-prescription requests are transmitted today). The physician then reviewed the nurse’s notes along with the complaint as described by the patient, and gave his or her diagnosis remotely. Why couldn’t, in certain circumstances, the physician prescribe a treatment or prescription without the need to actually see the patient? The physician could get paid a lesser fee since the amount of staff and personal time was reduced, the patient receives the prescription, treatment regimen as prescribed by the physician, or a message to come into the office, all while still in the pharmacy (assuming the staff at the physicians office are able to handle the requests in a timely manner). This allows the patient to deal with minor ailments more quickly, and cut down on the costs required to treat the patient.

Granted, the AMA and physicians will fight this as an encroachment on their doctor-patient relationship, but how many times do we just call a physician’s office, describe the symptoms to a nurse, and later that day pick up a prescription at the local pharmacy?

— Anthony, S. (2008, February 12). Is CVS Caremark Out-Innovating Apple? Harvard Business.