Though facing some challenges, the market for retail health clinics has grown overall and is poised to become a "durable part" of the nation's health care system, according to a new report by health care market researcher Kalorama Information.


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Report: Retail clinic market expands despite hurdles

April 26th, 2011

NEW YORK – Though facing some challenges, the market for retail health clinics has grown overall and is poised to become a "durable part" of the nation's health care system, according to a new report by health care market researcher Kalorama Information.

Kalorama said this week that its latest report, "Retail Clinics 2011: Market Assessment, Supplier Sales, Key Players and Trends," estimated retail clinic sales at $733.4 million, an increase of 81% per year since 2005. The research firm noted that such growth comes despite the recession and recent actions by some states to regulate the activity of retail clinics and limit the scope of the conditions they treat.

"The concept is still novel; it still arouses some fears. But our research finds that the clinics are popular, particularly in drug store settings," Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information, said in a statement.

Pushed by physician lobbies, some state legislatures have passed laws that could curtail retail clinic operations, according to Kalorama. For example, Florida limits a doctor to supervising only one clinic, and North Carolina restricts physicians to supervising two clinics, which could have the same effect, the researcher explained.

What's more, such laws may undermine the crux of the retail clinic concept, which is that some cost savings will come from using nurse practitioners instead of doctors, Kalorama pointed out in its report.

In addition, the researcher said, Massachusetts has regulated the conditions that can be treated in retail clinics and limits vaccinations of children to flu shots. Also, New York is investigating whether retail clinics steer customers toward the in-store pharmacy and is among several states considering a ban on tobacco sales where a retail location has a health clinic.

"So far, the laws that have direct safety implications have passed in a few states," stated Carlson. "The very restrictive laws, such as requiring a permit to have a retail clinic or requiring the clinic to alert a patient's doctor when they visit, have not passed."

Kalorama added that the lack of federal intervention in retail clinics and the failure of more states to pass laws restricting their operation indicate that clinics "right now have not lived up to the fears of opponents."

"If several cases of negligent care arose that could be tied specifically to the retail clinics' unique business model, it might accelerate legislative action," the researcher stated.

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