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September 17, 2021 01:03pm
By Ashley Gallagher, Assistant Editor
As more Americans are turning to retail clinics for their health care needs, the number of retails clinics is now projected to surpass 2800 by 2017.
As more Americans are turning to retail clinics for their health care needs, the number of retails clinics is now projected to surpass 2800 by 2017, significantly up from about 1900 in 2014.
Amid expanded health care services and signs of increasing profitability, Accenture predicts that the retail clinic footprint will grow 14% annually through 2017, reaching 2150 by the end of this year and approximately 2400 by the end of next year.
Last month, MinuteClinic, the largest provider of retail clinics, celebrated its1000-clinic milestone, and this month, it opened its first walk-in medical clinics inMaineandSpringfield, Missouri. Meanwhile, Walgreens, the second-largest provider of retail clinics, currently manages more than 400 Healthcare Clinic locations in the United States.
Accenture also predicts that walk-in retail clinics located in pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, supermarkets like Kroger, and other retail stores will add more capacity for 25 million patient visits in 2017, up from 16 million in 2014.
“Retail clinics originally offered a limited scope of services, treating low acuity or seasonal medical issues. Now, companies have begun to shift their focus from the ‘retail’ elements of this equation, emphasizing the clinical by expanding services, investing in capabilities, and partnering with other health value-chain players to grow patient volume,” the report stated. “These changes are having a profound impact on the overall profitability of these clinics and will serve as a key driver of future growth.”
For instance, MinuteClinic and Walgreens Healthcare Clinic are both implementing Epic’s enhanced electronic health record (EHR) system to securely connect their retail clinics and practitioners with other health care organizations to share patient medication lists and assist with medication reconciliation during clinic visits.
In addition, Target is partnering with Kaiser Permanente to launch a number of retail clinics in California that provide an expanded list of coordinated offerings and information sharing between clinics.
“Retail clinics are shifting to a clinical focus with more sophisticated services for consumers who want walk-in convenience for their basic health needs. This shift provides a release valve for strained health systems, as they prioritize more critical patient cases, and will give consumers another option for addressing their healthcare needs on their own terms,” stated Accenture managing director of health consulting Kristin Ficery.
Nevertheless, in a separate survey of 1000 US doctors, more than 2 in 5 respondents said they are comfortable with patients using a retail clinic for preventative care such as vaccinations, but the management of chronic conditions such as diabetes.
Echoing that sentiment, the American College of Physicians (ACP) stated in a recent policy position paper that retail health clinics are best used as abackup to patients’ primary care physicians, rather than a replacement.