business news in context, analysis with attitude

For the last couple of years, it seems like I’ve spent a lot of time writing about the burgeoning in-store health clinic business and the influence it may have on the delivery of basic medical services, not to mention the ability of retailers to forge deeper relationships with shoppers.

This week, I thought I’d come down with a mild case of conjunctivitis, passed along to me presumable when I was high-fiving the little kids next door who, I later found out, were infected with the dreaded pink-eye. So it seemed like a good opportunity to try out an in-store health clinic, especially since it probably would take a couple of days to get a regular doctor’s appointment.

I went online and discovered there were two CVS Minute Clinics within six miles of my house in either direction…I flipped a coin and went off to visit the facility in Riverside, Connecticut.

There, in the back of the store, I found a small Minute Clinic where I used a small kiosk to sign in and provide some basic personal information. There was no line, and I was immediately ushered into the office by a delightful nurse practitioner, Adele Stanley, who proceeded to take my medical history, my blood pressure and temperature, and run a couple of quick tests that confirmed my self-diagnosis. At my request, she emailed a prescription for eye drops to the CVS store in the same building where MNB World Headquarters is located, and she cautioned me that if my condition did not improve in 24 hours, I should call my doctor.

The total cost was $67, and my co-pay was $25. While my portion would have been the same had I visited an actual doctor, the total cost almost certainly would have been a lot more expensive. And the best news – my eyes feel better.

Now, I do have some mild criticisms. I was surprised to find out that if I make a return visit to the dame Minute Clinic, I pretty much have to go through the same sign-in process at the kiosk. And, when I was asked about the medications that I take, I really was surprised to find out that the nurse could not simply access the information from her computer…even though all of my prescriptions are from CVS. (If my usual pharmacy was another retailer, they could offer me a discount on the prescription if I got it from CVS.)

I asked about when flu shots will be made available, and while the nurse said that it would be sometime in late September and early October, she did not know whether CVS would be emailing notifications to customers. That’s something that they certainly ought to do, especially since they now have my email address and I’ve demonstrated a willingness to patronize the Minute Clinic concept.

In all, the CVS Minute Clinic experience was a good one. I’d go back without hesitation. And it reinforces my belief that – especially if some of the processes are tweaked – the offering of such services by retailers makes a lot of sense.

Fascinating piece in the Chicago Tribune the other day about how the town of Tiburon, California, wants to photograph every car that enters and departs the city, and use that information to solve crimes there – a plan made possible by geography that offers a limited number of ways to get into the community.

Local officials say that they won’t be invading anyone’s privacy or making the records public; the photos will simply be there as a resource when a crime (and there aren’t a lot of them in Tiburon) is committed; the photos will be erased after a maximum of 60 days. But privacy advocates are concerned that this is an Orwellian move with frightening implications.

I sort of get both sides of this argument. There is something a little scary about this level of constant surveillance and tracking, though to be fair, it already is happening – if you use a credit card or EZPass or a mobile phone, it is pretty easy to figure out where you are any given moment.

There’s a corner in my town where there is a “right turn only” lane that drivers – who sometimes get off the crowded turnpike to cut through town – routinely ignore, causing traffic jams and even coming dangerously close to hitting pedestrians. And while I have concerns about Big Brother, I wish they’d put a camera there and start ticketing the mostly out of town drivers who seem not to care about basic traffic laws.

Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox gets a big “Wow!” for his perfect game yesterday against the Tampa Bay Rays, just the 18th in Major League baseball history.

But DeWayne Wise, who was inserted as a replacement center fielder in the ninth inning for his defensive skills, also gets a big “Wow!” for the amazing catch he made that preserved the perfect game.

Just great stuff. And yet another example of why, as Robert B. Parker says, baseball is the most important thing in life that doesn’t matter.

BTW…just for the record, I was born in New York City’s Greenwich Village on November 4, 1954…and I have the birth certificate to prove it. Just in case anybody wants to ask questions about whether I’m a real American blogger.

Finally caught up with “Gran Torino,” and I think I’m in the minority – I didn’t think it was as good a movie as most people seemed to feel. I’m a Clint Eastwood fan and have liked a lot of his recent work, especially as a director…but I thought he miscast himself as the lead in this story about a bigoted and retired Detroit auto worker who finds himself in the middle of a racist imbroglio in his neighborhood – and, remarkably, finds himself siding with the immigrant family next door.

It was an interesting story, especially put into sharp relief by the events in Cambridge, Massachusetts, this week, that remind us that race issues in this country have not been resolved by the election of an African-American to the presidency.

But my big problem was that Eastwood simply isn’t a good enough actor to pull off the role. I couldn’t help but think that had he cast Gene Hackman in the role, it would have worked a lot better and been a lot more powerful.

I have two excellent Italian white wines for you this week: the 2007 Livernano L'Anima Bianco, made from a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer, and the 2007 Kurtatsch Cortaccia Moscato Giallo. Both are excellent when served crisply cold, especially with seafood or fruit. Yummm….

Last year, when the MNB community chimed in with a list of the great burger joints around the country, I was surprised to see how many people recommended a place called the Burger Bar & Bistro in Norwalk, Connecticut – just a half dozen miles from my house, and a place I didn’t even know existed.

Well, for those of you who recommended it, it is time for a return visit – they’ve tripled the size of the place, have installed a very nice bar, and expanded the menu a bit – though the core still is a selection of some of the best burgers I’ve ever had.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

KC's View: