About one in five U.S. adults has visited a retail health clinic, up from roughly one in 10 six years ago, according to research by Kalorama Information.


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Retail News Breaks

Consumer familiarity with retail clinics growing

November 27th, 2012

NEW YORK – About one in five U.S. adults has visited a retail health clinic, up from roughly one in 10 six years ago, according to research by Kalorama Information.

The health care market researcher said Monday that of 2,000 U.S. adults it surveyed online, 21.3% have gone to a retail clinic, a significant gain from polls six years ago showing that less than 10% of adults had visited a walk-in clinic in a retail setting.

In its study "Retail Clinics 2012: Growth of Stores, Consumer Opinion Surveys, Winning Competitors, Supplier Sales of Products to Clinics, Clinic Sales Forecasts and Trends," Kalorama pointed to the expansion of health clinics at top retail chains along with a rise in clinic traffic. The research firm said a critical development for retail clinic concept is that major drug store chains have embraced clinics and the nation's two largest chain drug retailers — Walgreens (Take Care Clinics) and CVS Caremark (MinuteClinics) — are competing to offer health services as part of their retail strategy.

What's more, the "bunching" of retail clinics in metropolitan markets identified for key demographics has increased the likelihood that residents of those areas will visit a retail clinic, according to Kalorama.

"In places like Atlanta, Phoenix, Minneapolis and Chicago, there is greater competition and awareness of retail clinics because companies have made investments there," stated Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information. "In other cities, respondents right now will say that they have not been to a clinic because there isn't one close to them."

Though found primarily in drug stores, retail clinics are also located in supermarkets and mass merchandise stores such as Walmart, as well as in shopping malls. Kalorama said the business model is taking advantage of heavy retail traffic and providing defined services typically administered by a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant.

Kalorama noted that customers have responded well to the appointment-free service, improved hours over the average doctor's office and lower costs. A shortage of primary care physicians, escalating concerns about access and costs, and now a health reform plan are all expected to send new patients to clinics, the study indicated.

At the same time, retail clinics are encountering more competition from primary care physicians, urgent care centers and other entities, Kalorama added.

"The other side of the survey result is that nearly 80% of respondents have not visited a clinic," Carlson noted. "The concept survived the recession and opposition from medical associations and state legislatures, but there is still work to do."

Kalorama's study found that retail clinics have hit some bumps in the road in recent years. While there are more than 1,300 retail clinics and that number is expected to climb, the clinic count declined during the recession, the researcher said. Stores have struggled with getting patients during summer and spring months, and well-known chains closed clinics in some stores, according to the report. Physician practice and urgent care competition, labor shortages, competition for retail space and limited space at drug stores also stand to rein in the growth of health clinics in retail stores.

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