Cute But Older Than His Age

CVS Minute Clinic: the death of doctor’s offices?

By Amanda Ponzar

StethoscopeHere’s a true account of my experience this week. Got a sore throat on Friday, probably from all the relatives here for Thanksgiving.


Called and made a sick appointment, waited an hour in the waiting room, dealt with disinterested office staff, paid co-pay, saw drug rep go in ahead of me, finally seen by the doctor, tested for strep and told it would take 2-3 days to find out if I had it, given a paper prescription for penicillin to start taking in case it was strep.

Got worse.

After not hearing from them for four days, called doc’s office to inquire re: strep results as I was still feeling terrible. Waited. Then put on hold. “Strep results were negative.” “So, I should stop taking the penicillin?” “Yes.” Thanks. Note: my husband’s never even been able to get into our doctor’s office when he’s sick so he’s given up going altogether. Hearing that they have an opening “next week” isn’t very helpful.

So, decided to try something else...


Drove to the clinic which is inside a CVS store; no line, no wait, no appointment needed. Did not have to fill out reams of paperwork –- just typed a few things into a computer and BAM! Seen immediately. Very friendly practitioner checked me out in a clean, modern-looking room and determined I have a sinus infection and conjunctivitis. Electronic prescriptions sent to my pharmacy for immediate pick-up, or you can fill your prescriptions right there in the store. (Plus they can test for strep with instant results; no wait!) Very helpful, empathetic, answered questions, etc. Provided multiple full-page printouts explaining my illnesses, prescriptions, what I should do and not do to avoid getting sick in the future, etc. Took my credit card right there for instant payment. Survey from Minute Clinic was in my inbox when I got home.

Here's the kicker: same co-pay. HELLO!??!! The only reason I hadn't tried a Minute Clinic earlier is I thought they were like urgent care or the emergency room (higher copays, etc.).

I know some doctor’s offices are more up to date and do a better job than my antiquated shop (I’ve been quite pleased with my OBGYN for example), but for crying out loud people, this is a customer service issue. Doctor’s offices are finally facing competition from a faster, more nimble, more technologically competent competitor who isn’t full-service but deals with the most common issues patients face in a convenient, accessible way that meets customers’ needs. Look out!! And let this be a lesson to all of us that no business, service or product is invincible; we must continue to evolve or go the way of the dinosaur.

(This is not the Cyber Monday post it was supposed to be; I was railing about the difficulties of shopping with kids trying to navigate a stroller around tiny aisles with kids hiding under clothing racks and pulling merchandise off the shelves versus the ease of online ordering with packages showing up at my front door from Ten Thousand Villages,, Bath & Body Works, etc.; however, my computer died –- blue screened me & all –- and I lost the glorious post; so here’s “Forget Black Friday Madness: Momma’s Shopping Online", my post from last year on a similar topic. Enjoy.) 


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Amanda P

This is the author Amanda Ponzar again; my visit to a different CVS Minute Clinic April 17, 2012 was not as good.
#1) Got overcharged for the copay somehow --they did charge me the urgent care higher rate with this new insurance. (Trying to correct this.)
#2) Got the wrong amount of pills (pay same copay if I get 4 pills or 20)
#3) Had to wait over an hour to be seen -- ran to post office, got gas, shopped & checked email while I waited. (The other Minute Clinic I'd gone to previously had 2 practioners vs. just one.)
#4) Yesterday when I called, they couldn't address the billing issue because records show up 24 hours later in their system. Today, the first rep was crabby and then hung up on me by mistake when trying to transfer me.

However, the third person I got to was GREAT & she's looking into correcting the overpayment & the prescription issue. One thing I did learn is that Minute Clinic does not prescribe maintenance drugs so if you need to refill a regular prescription, best not to go. Minute Clinic seems made for a cold/flu when your primary care/regular doctor can't fit you in right away (which happens to me sometimes). Drs. office: "How does two weeks from now work for you?" Me: "No thanks. By then I'll be well on my own or dead."'s hit or miss. Maybe the point isn't that Minute Clinic is the death of doctors offices but that as a culture, we are often dealing with the death of good customer service and responsiveness.

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