Retail clinics continue to help healthcare system evolve

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Just as National Convenient Care Clinic Week gets under way and healthcare professionals gather in Orlando, Fla., to attend the fourth annual Retail Clinician Education Congress, the convenient care industry continues to evolve as MinuteClinic seals the deal on yet another clinical collaboration and a newcomer prepares to open its doors in Pennsylvania.

(THE NEWS: MinuteClinic enters clinical affiliation with Henry Ford Health System. For the full story, click here.)

As reported, MinuteClinic and Henry Ford Health System have entered a clinical affiliation to connect Henry Ford physicians, as on-call medical directors, to the 10 Southeast Michigan locations of MinuteClinic.

In addition, MinuteClinic and Henry Ford will collaborate on educating patients and helping them to manage chronic diseases. Henry Ford physicians will accept patients who need a level of care that is not provided at MinuteClinic.

This alliance marks the latest such collaboration for MinuteClinic. For example, in June alone, MinuteClinic also announced clinical affiliations with Cleveland Clinic Florida, which is part of the Cleveland Clinic health system, and OhioHealth, a not-for-profit, charitable healthcare organization.

And, of course, Walgreens' Take Care Health Systems has formed several similar relationships. Among the more recent: a clinical collaboration with Memorial Health for patients in the greater Jacksonville, Fla., region. Such partnerships are important because they further signify that retail-based clinics are more than just clinics; they are bringing providers together in the name of better patient care and improved access.

Meanwhile, WellSpan Health, an integrated health system serving the greater Adams-York County region in Pennsylvania, is planning to open this fall three CareExpress walk-in health clinics in York County, Pa., of which two clinics will be located inside Giant food stores.

WellSpan Health currently operates two WellSpan ReadyCare walk-in clinics that treat such ailments as rashes, cuts and burns and sore throat, and a WellSpan Orthopedics walk-in clinic for sprains, breaks and strains.

However, the new WellSpan CareExpress locations will offer those services found in a typical retail-based health clinic.

Clearly, the convenient care industry is on track for a second wave of expansion.

According to Kalorama Information's recent report, "Retail Clinics 2011: Market Assessment, Supplier Sales, Key Players and Trends," retail clinic sales have risen dramatically since their inception in 2000. The firm estimated retail clinic sales at $733.4 million in 2010, an increase of 81% per year since 2005. Through 2015, sales are expected to continue expanding, rising by 19.3% per year to reach $1.7 billion.

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