Retail clinics are an emerging trend that represent a relatively untapped marketplace for large hospital systems in the U.S. This trend can be directly attributed to an earlier post I made in regards to ‘disruptive innovations’ in healthcare. Read my post on The Emergence of Disruptive Innovations in a “Starbucks Economy.”
In light of a market that is slowly being driven more by price conscious consumers; we see a national demand for low-cost, convenient healthcare services. Retail clinics seek to meet this demand face on and are capable of challenging traditional methods of care.
A report by Deloitte, a nationally recognized consultancy agency, Retail Clinics: Update and Implications, concluded that retail medical clinics would become a staple of the U.S. health care delivery system. Deloitte claims that retail clinics are not a fad and; they are a ‘disruptive innovation’ with a sustainable value proposition (price, quality, service) that is welcomed by consumers (Deloitte, 2009). For people with no health insurance, retail clinics offer substantial cost savings over other alternatives.
Traditionally, the retail clinic marketplace has been saturated and dominated by retail chains such as CVS, Walgreens and even Target. In addition, competition amongst U.S. healthcare providers has increased dramatically in the midst of a shrinking, more saturated healthcare market.
While large hospital systems compete vigorously to retain and attract new patients, I see retail clinics as an important strategic ‘push’ to retain existing patients; control the burden and stress put on their emergency departments and; a way to develop a new “access point” for new and existing patients.
In some cases, large hospital systems have found that their patients prefer to receive care in the retail care setting, especially for low acuity care visits. More importantly, physicians and allied health professionals have begun to embrace the model because it allows them to direct their patients to retail clinics after hours.
Aligning themselves with a retail clinic concept represents an unparalleled opportunity to differentiate their business model from their competitors, such as CVS. Large hospital systems, such as the Cleveland Clinic and Mayos of the world, bring a strong recognizable ‘brand’ name to market, as being top-notch healthcare providers, who have direct access to world-class specialists.
Even though entry into the retail clinic marketplace maybe no easy feat to overcome for a large hospital system, it represents a ‘disruptive innovation’ in an industry ripe for change. The retail clinic model meets an increasing demand, from informed consumers, for convenient, low-cost, and quality healthcare; and it doesn’t look to be fading anytime soon. I believe it will be integral for large hospital systems to begin exploring and implementing the retail clinic model or strategically aligning themselves with established retail clinic providers.
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