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Walgreens Clinics a Challenge to Doctors

Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Walgreens will expand its drugstore clinics to diagnose and treat chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

The decision is the retail industry’s boldest move yet into primary health care.

Walgreens says most of its 370 in-store clinics in 18 states will diagnose, treat and monitor patients with chronic conditions that typically are handled by doctors.

ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser said the clinics can provide a good service, but he does have concerns. "When I think about a clinic being in a retail establishment I worry that the clinic might be selling more products that are needed because they're right there and they're beholden to the retail establishment."

"So you want to make sure there is oversight and transparency there," Besser said. "And for those patients who also have a primary care provider that there's a clear mechanism for getting the information on treatment and diagnosis back to their regular provider.

"I've worked with a lot of nurse practitioners and physician assistants and the quality of care they provide is outstanding. What you want to make sure though, in this setting, is what kind of oversight will be provided by physicians, what will be the indications for a nurse practitioner or nurse's assistant to refer a patient on for further evaluation."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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