Retail clinics didn’t hit the 5,000-number mark as some pundits thought, but they’re certainly reached a niche in the healthcare market. One exec estimates that retail clinics have seen 17 million patients to date, and if the shortage of primary care docs and patients not willing to sit around physician offices with long wait times is any indication, the potential for increased traffic is there.
And hospitals are taking notice. The Journal of Healthcare Contracting examines why hospitals and health systems are taking a long look, and in many cases stepping into the retail clinic market. The reasons are many. Health-system-operated retail clinics are a win for the health system and the patient, says Tine Hansen-Turton, executive director of the Convenient Care Association, the association for retail clinics.
Patients get a low-cost option for care, and the health system gets a new source of inpatient admissions or same-day procedures. “For the hospital, it’s a great community marketing tool,” she says.
While health systems continue to open and operate their own clinics, a more potent formula might find systems partnering with established clinic operators or retailers. For instance, MinuteClinic has relationships with Cleveland Clinic; Allina Hospitals, Minneapolis, Minn.; Catholic Healthcare West, Phoenix, Ariz.; and, most recently, St. Vincent’s HealthCare in Jacksonville, Fla.
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