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Retail Clinics Are Hot. Or Not.

Writing for HealthLeaders Media, Cheryl Clark discusses the role of retail clinics in a post-reform era.
"(According to) several studies, including ones done by RANDHealth and the University of Minnesota. "Doc-in-a-box" convenience down the street can play an important role enabling patients to get basic care— such as treatment for a sore throat—especially since family practitioners are in short supply..."
Trends in retail health are not uniformly positive.  Two months after acquiring "The Little Clinics" chain, Kroger supermarkets closed 20 locations, citing poor financial performance and the need to "strengthen the business model (and) revisit expansion."  And as Clark's article makes clear, physician opposition to the concept remains vehement and organized.

For the hospitals and health systems pursuing a retail strategy, it's all about access to convenient, low-cost health services and building loyalty in new markets and customer segments.

Yet the retail "host" focuses more narrowly on increased store traffic and higher sales per square foot.  They're happy to diagnose a sore throat...so long as it leads to a prescription or three on the way out, and maybe a gallon of milk too.  The clinic is just a means to a very focused outcome: increased sales.  The minute (pun intended) a clinic produces less traffic than, say, additional space in the shampoo aisle, it's not difficult to guess which receives the eviction notice.

Comments

Ray Hutchins said…
I found your piece by searching for info related to retail clinics, a business I was in for 10 years in Austin Texas. I think the solution to our healthcare issues resides in our ability to use IT correctly. For example, A small privately held SaaS development company based in Colorado has developed and deployed an ontologically-based, GIS integrated disease management decision support system in Africa to fight malaria. This is a significant system that was funded by the global combatants of this disease and the system can be rapidly customized for deployment to other disease environments…especially if you are talking about vector-borne disease. The company, TerraFrame is interested in leveraging its technology to fight global diseases and is happy to entertain creative conversations to that effect. For more information please contact Ray Hutchins at rh@terraframe.com

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