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In-Depth | “Understanding Retail Healthcare’s Role In Our Communities: A Candid Look Into This Popular Healthcare Delivery Model”

By Staff Writer, American Journal of Retail Medicine & Editor, Concierge Medicine Today

JULY 2021 – Despite a variety of opinions related to the subject of retail healthcare “in healthcare”, their popularity is surging among patients, particularly younger patient demographics. But what makes them so appealing? Why are patients forsaking the traditional primary care or family medicine office in search of these clinics? Is it the transparent cost on the flat screen when you enter? Is it the ease of entry and walk-in scheduling compared to that of a traditional, plan reimbursed medical office? Is it the convenience of pharmacy and retail?

(C) Concierge Medicine Today, 2021

Well, all of the above when you unpack the patient surveys and industry data. Like it or loathe it, it’s not going away. With the recent distribution of vaccines during the Pandemic, one reporter and a number of healthcare providers emphasized that ‘They’re cementing their role in healthcare …’ Patient frustration with their Doctor’s office also isn’t getting better. Trust in our Physician’s insight is also meandering according to the Patient Surveys. And, it’s not just the Pandemic you might think that is causing consumer fatigue with healthcare. The systemic ‘patient burnout’ has been happening in healthcare for years, decades if you ask some Physicians.

First, you might ask, why are we talking about this at Concierge Medicine Today?

Well, candidly, the healthcare delivery world is changing. Despite what we might see as the center of the universe (eg. Concierge Medicine), there are a lot of other innovations in healthcare delivery that are taking place in our communities. Not learning about them is a mistake.

To explain why we wrote the Doctor’s Expanded Edition to Concierge Medicine, I’ll let you in on what one of our favorite authors Andy Stanley said in his Leadership Podcast recently and why we included an excerpt from his podcast in the new book. He said,  “Somebody is already working on a uniquely better approach, a uniquely better product, a uniquely better environment, a uniquely better model. Someone out there is currently messing with the rules of the prevailing model. The goal isn’t necessarily to be the first or the pioneer of ‘uniquely better’ but people should be in a position organizationally and personally to recognize it when it comes along.” ~A.S., Leadership Podcast; Part 2; Dec. 1, 2017

In fact, A. Stanley., also added later in the same podcast, “It is natural to assume that what worked in the past will always work. But, of course, that way of thinking is lethal. And the longer it goes unchallenged, the more difficult it is to identify and eradicate. Every innovation has an expiration date.”

So as we unpack and discover what Retail Healthcare is, isn’t and it’s role in our lives (or not), please understand that we are providing this educational insight to you through a lens that values the Patient-Physician relationship deeply, but also understands that “Patient Fatigue” has set in. And the data is teasing this out as well over the years … and simply stated, continued innovation in healthcare needs to happen … and it will happen long after you and I are no longer around to see it.

So, let’s begin.

In 2021, there are a lot more case studies, medical journal publications and articles about the pros, cons and realities of retail healthcare than there were when we started writing here at the AJRM years ago.

In March of 2020, Consumer Reports writer, Donna Rosato wrote an article entitled, Alternatives to Traditional Medical Care. In the article she writes … The roughly 2,700 health clinics located in chain pharmacies, supermarkets, and retail stores—up from 1,200 in 2010, according to the Convenient Care Association—offer no-appointment-needed treatment. Staffed mainly by P.A.s and N.P.s, they’re typically open every day and have become a common source of care for nearly a quarter of Americans with no primary care doctor, CR’s survey found. Some of these clinics, such as the MinuteClinics in more than 1,000 Target locations and CVS drugstores, have been around since the early 2000s. What’s new is that CVS and several other retailers are expanding the services they offer. CVS recently launched more than 50 of a planned 1,500 HealthHubs, where consumers can get nutrition counseling, attend wellness classes, and receive help managing chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as vaccines and treatment for problems like colds and the flu.

This article by Consumer Reports and many others over the past several years further elaborates about the pros, cons, costs, support staff and role that retail healthcare clinics are now playing in our culture and inside of each of our communities. The Convenient Care Association (CCA) is a great resource for this burgeoning space and is the national trade association that represents the industry to sustain its growth and share best practices and standards of operation. AJRM is not affiliated with CCA.

As with any medical journal, article or publication, it’s important to have all the facts. We have found that dependent upon the authors medical profession, place of employment of the author, who may or may not be sponsoring the article, etc., defining opinions are somewhat opinionated but objective.

Of course, data is data and numbers are numbers, right?

Well, we’ll let you decide. Here are some helpful insights we feel at the AJRM provide an educational and accurate photograph of the retail healthcare space, despite your tendencies or opinions to love, loathe or be indifferent or you might still be forming an opinion.

Educational Articles, Publications & Insights

(RAND) The Evolving Role of Retail Clinics

Med Care. 2019 Sep;57(9):734-741.doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000001164.Comparing Retail Clinics With Other Sites of Care: A Systematic Review of Cost, Quality, and Patient Satisfaction https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31274781/

Retail Clinic Partnerships Can Expand Access to Care, Improve Patient Outcomes; October 19th 2015; Contemporary Clinic Editorial Staff; https://www.contemporaryclinic.com/view/retail-clinic-partnerships-can-expand-access-to-care-improve-patient-outcomes

Experimentation | Can Big-Box Retailers Provide Local Health Care?; By Robert S. Huckman; October 25, 2019 https://hbr.org/2019/10/can-big-box-retailers-provide-local-health-care

Pharmacies & Retail Health Clinics Lower Costs and Improve Outcomes https://cvshealth.com/news-and-insights/articles/pharmacies-retail-health-clinics-lower-costs-and-improve-outcomes

Albany, NY — (SBWIRE) — 05/09/2017 — Retail clinics are a convenient way for patients to visit a walk-in health care clinic. These clinics are located inside retail stores such as supermarkets and department stores. They are sometimes referred to as convenient care clinics. These clinics offer benefits similar to that offered by traditional clinics. They are usually staffed by nurses and physician assistants. Retail clinics provide medical services such as treatment for flu, cold, dehydration, fever, cough, diagnostic services, vaccination, laboratory tests, physiotherapy, and treatment for injuries. View Report @ http://www.transparencymarketresearch.com/retail-clinics-market.html

March 9, 2020; Applying Retail Principles To Healthcare Can Improve Patient Engagement; By Matt Henry, Point B https://www.healthitoutcomes.com/doc/applying-retail-principles-to-healthcare-can-improve-patient-engagement-0001

Retail Healthcare Continues to Consolidate in Europe

AJMC: Retail Clinics Are Still Here. Now What? | March 30, 2017 Medica Research Institute

Covid-19 Vaccine Is Cementing Retail’s Role in US Healthcare (AdWeek)

23 February 2021 | Key Findings | J.D. Power | Consumers’ growing comfort with retail health could prove critical to vaccine effort

RESEARCH: Retail Clinics Market– “Future Demand and Growth Analysis with Forecast 2024”

(PubMed) Health Care Manag (Frederick). Oct-Dec 2013;32(4):336-42.doi: 10.1097/HCM.0b013e3182a9d73f.The evolution of retail clinics in the United States, 2006-2012 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24168869/

(Advisory Board)Is ‘Big Retail’ the next big health care disruptor…

Kaissi A, Charland T. The evolution of retail clinics in the United States, 2006-2012. Health Care Manag (Frederick). 2013 Oct-Dec;32(4):336-42. doi: 10.1097/HCM.0b013e3182a9d73f. PMID: 24168869.

Major players operating in the retail clinics market include Kroger, Rite Aid, Doctors Care, Clear Balance, CVS Health’s MinuteClinic, NEXtCARE, RediClinic, Target Brands, Inc., The Little Clinic, U.S. HealthWorks, Inc., Urgent Care MSO, LLC, and Walgreen Co. Growth of retail clinics and the companies are related to initiatives aimed at patient’s satisfaction. With growing experience, companies are expanding their services and experiment with new methods such as telemedicine integration, point-of-care technologies, and offering new services. For example, Minute Clinic (CVS) launched a digital tool in May 2016 which helped patients to estimate the wait time at several locations. PRESS RELEASE SOURCE: http://www.sbwire.com/press-releases/retail-clinics-market-future-demand-and-growth-analysis-with-forecast-2024-803399.htm

The Evolving Role of Retail Clinics. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2016. https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9491-2.html.

Health Care On Aisle 7: The Growing Phenomenon of Retail Clinics [Rand Health, November 2009]

Comparing Costs and Quality of Care at Retail Clinics With That of Other Medical Settings for 3 Common Illnesses Annals of Internal Medicine, September 2009]

Retail Clinics, Primary Care Physicians, And Emergency Departments: A Comparison Of Patients’ Visits [Health Affairs, September 2008]

Health Care in the Express Lane: The Emergence of Retail Clinics (California HealthCare Foundation, July 2006)

Health Care in the Express Lane: Retail Clinics Go Mainstream (California HealthCare Foundation, September 2007)

USA Today – “Could Walk-In Clinics Help Slow Rising Health Care Costs?”ABC News – “Future of Health Care or Quick Fix?”Medscape – “Working in a Retail Clinic: What Nurse Practitioners Need to Ask”

The New York Times Magazine: “The Year In Ideas: Walk-In Health Care”

Healthcare 311 – Searchable database of US retail clinics Healthcare 311 News – Healthcare 311 publisher’s blog on the topics of retail clinics, convenient care, health innovations, and more

Explore Retail Health Care Clinics: Related Industry Resources Operating out of pharmacies, grocery stores, and “big box” stores, retail health clinics provide care for simple acute conditions, typically delivered by a nurse practitioner. RAND, for example, provides research and examines all angles of this relatively new mode of care delivery, including the effect of retail clinics on preventive services, doctor-patient relationships, and costs.

Related Industry Infographics

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