SEATTLE, Washington - A group of enterprising doctors today were granted a license by the State Board of Medical Examiners in Washington State to open the first of what they hope to be many self-help walk-in clinics in America.
Based on the concept of "been there, done that" but in a more professional sense, the doctors came up with a plan that they say will revolutionize the way people are treated for minor mishaps. The doctors claim that most people nowadays know their way around the internet pretty well. There are hundreds if not thousands of "check your symptoms" sites for them to go online and follow a series of questions to determine what may be ailing them. The doctors also claim that people are much more savvy when it comes to self-diagnosing and treating themselves with over-the-counter and existing prescribed medications, and that those same people would benefit from coming into a clinic and getting a confirmation or denial of their course of action.
"That is where we come in," claims Dr. Stanley Morgenstern, the brainchild who came up with this most unique approach to treating those who cannot afford quality medical care but who need the 'clinic' experience to get well.
"I was seeing more and more patients who would ask me about this treatment or that treatment that they had read up on the internet and in more than one instance I noticed that what they were spouting to me had some truth in it." Morgenstern said he then had several conversations with some colleagues over a multiple golf games and that's when it hit him. "Hey, these people can follow directions. We'll help them out and not charge them a fortune just to see a guy in a white coat do what they can do for themselves," said Morgenstern, and that is how "Self-Check Clinics" was born.
The concept is going to be quite simple. People do not need an appointment to go into the clinic and register to 'consult' with a computer doctor. Once seated before a computer screen, they will be prompted automatically to fill in their name and a brief medical history and state any existing conditions they have as well as medical problems they are having at present. They will also be prompted to report any and all drugs they are taking, whether prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal. They will also be able to slip their arm into a blood pressure cup and have their blood pressure as well as temperature and heart rate readings taken automatically.
The screen will then come on asking them what their major complaint is. Dr. Morgenstern claims that these clinics will only take patients who have minor complaints, such as grinding headache, insomnia, flu other non life-threatening medical issues. Several times throughout the screen process the computer will prompt the patient to go on with the PROCEED prompt. If the computer gets to a point at any time where it senses the patient may have a much more serious problem, it will show a STOP prompt and will advise the patient to immediately see a doctor.
Some of the PROCEED prompts will look like this:
PROCEED: TO DRUG COUNTER
PROCEED: TO PICK UP YOUR DIAGNOSIS
PROCEED: TO CHECK OUT AND PAY
Some opponents of the new clinics are making their voices heard loud and clear that this is a horrible idea which will lead to misdiagnosis causing more serious medical conditions in the people who use these clinics. Dr. Morgenstern disagrees. "People have options all the time in life," said Morgenstern. "I'll give you a for instance. Most people suffering mild chest pains will first think they are having a heart attack. This is normal to think this way as that is location of the heart. However, nine times out of ten, it is just heart burn. Sure, they could just go over to the drug store and pick up something to ease the discomfort, but with all those products on the shelf, which one do they choose? Tablets? Time-release capsules? Liquids? It can get pretty confusing. Our clinics will help them sort out their needs from Mylanta to Pepcid. That is just one of the many things we can do for them. They will walk out of a clinic better informed of their condition and feel proud that they took part in a positive health plan for a change."
Morgenstern continued, "Would they like to have the money to see a real doctor? Sure, maybe, but until they do, they get charged a little less for almost basically the same treatment. It's a win-win hands down."