Retail-based health clinics continue to move beyond acute care

CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic is striving to help patients lose weight and live healthier lives via a new weight-loss program that incorporates the DASH diet.

The move is important as it further illustrates the increased focus among retail-based health clinics to move beyond acute care. Many retail clinic operators already have started migrating toward expanded services, including weight-loss, smoking-cessation and fitness programs. For example, RediClinic has its Weigh Forward weight-management program, and Lindora, which operates a handful of clinics within select Rite Aid stores, began as a weight-loss clinic first and evolved into acute care later.

Retail-based health clinics have already been experiencing a ramp up in visits and, as Drug Store News has stated before, with the increasing shift beyond acute, expect retail clinics to ramp up even quicker, creating new, more profitable revenue streams and filling huge gaps in care that save payers some serious money.

The number of U.S. retail health clinics is projected to double in the next three years because of the increasing demand of newly insured patients under healthcare reform, according to a report released in June by Accenture ACN at the annual America's Health Insurance Plans Institute 2013 in Las Vegas. The number of retail clinics is expected to increase 20% to 25% per year between now and 2015 and double from 1,418 to 2,868 clinics in that time period.

And, as previously reported by Drug Store News, a Rand Corp. study released in August 2012 stated that the proportion of retail clinic visits made for acute medical problems dropped from 78% to 51%, and there was a corresponding increase in visits for preventive care, making up more than 47% of visits by 2009.

Meanwhile, MinuteClinic has indicated that non-acute care is its fastest-growing segment. The company has stated that it expects non-acute visits and non-flu vaccinations to reach 25% of its services over the next five years.

Offering such services not only helps patients live healthier lives but it also helps retail-based clinic operators — and community pharmacies — build new relationships with patients and keeps them coming back. In other words, it helps build customer loyalty and improves patient outcomes — a win-win.

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