Despite opposition from local physicians and medical groups, retail health clinics have gradually gained market acceptance. About 1,100 retail clinics now operate across the country. The largest operator is MinuteClinic with 41% of the market, closely followed by TakeCare with 31% of the market. A big change in this market during 2009 has been the entrance of clinics operated by hospital systems. These clinics now account for 2% of the total. For the long term, industry analysts expect the number of clinics to reach about 4,000 in 2015 and to ‘top out’ at that point.
But clinic operators will need to make some operational and marketing changes in order to succeed. Gradually, consumer opinion has become more favorable of these service providers. For example, consumers are less worried about the level of care they might receive. The following percentages represent an improvement over figures from recent years:
- Worried about staff qualifications: 65%
- Worried about missed diagnosis: 65%
One big way for retail health clinics to improve their position in the marketplace is to communicate the savings consumers can realize by using their service. Currently, over half of retail clinic visitors are having some of their cost reimbursed by health insurance providers. Further, the delivery of basic services such as lab testing, so far, costs less than emergency room and primary care physician visits. Overall, somewhere between 7–11% of consumers use these facilities. The usage rate appears to be higher, over 15%, for parents with children.
To increase traffic, clinics must make themselves better known. Deloitte analysts point out that “[f]or most retail clinics, the sole marketing effort is in-store”. These analysts note that this strategy is already changing and that MinuteClinic (with CVS) and TakeCare (with Walgreens) are increasing their advertising efforts.
As local health care providers move into this market, more competition may occur. In addition, independent providers may also forge stronger ties with the local medical community because of the need to share electronic health records. In any case, as this new channel for health care delivery expands and strengthens, administrators will be increasing marketing campaigns to make consumers aware of their options.[Source: Retail Clinics, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, 11.12.09]